Beware new importers bearing Birch Plywood

supply chain risks

Timber Development UK (TDUK) is warning merchants to carry out thorough checks of any offers of Birch Plywood imports from new importers they may receive.

TDUK continues to hear worrying reports about its members being offered new import channels of Birch Plywood by companies in the Far East and China.

Most forests are concentrated in Northern Russia and Eurasia, and so the vast majority of Birch Plywood is currently subject to the Russian timber import ban that was introduced following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Big Ben and the Parliament Building at Westminster

The UK government has imposed sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Government sanctions prohibit the import, acquisition, supply and delivery of revenue on all wood products coming from Russia. This spans all wood categories and affects Birch Plywood in particular, where significant volumes were exported to the UK prior to the conflict.

This UK and EU-wide sanction and trade ban applies to all timber products originating from Russia, Belarus and parts of Ukraine controlled by Russia. It applies to goods shipped directly from Russia or Belarus, and to goods arriving via third countries such as China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

However, it is almost certain that the Birch contained in the Plywood now being offered from the Far East and China has, in fact, originated in Russia. This is for two reasons. Firstly, there are no Birch Plywood trees growing naturally in China or the Far East.

Secondly, China has imposed no sanctions on Russia, with trade patterns continuing as they were prior to the conflict, meaning sanction-stricken products such as Russian Birch are now becoming widely available for import and processing into China. Despite the Birch Plywood being processed in China, any timber originating from Russia is illegal to import into the UK or the EU, so any company that imports from outside of the EU runs a high risk of being in breach of UK sanctions.

We would ask all our members to remain vigilant against any organisations offering to supply Birch Plywood to the UK from the Far East.

Should Russian timber products be found in the UK/EU market, the importer and all customers who have purchased these products may be subject to legal action, fines and reputational damage, which would also impact their trading partners in the manufacturing country.

* This article was originally published in Issue #01 of Supplying Timber magazine