Check where your birch plywood comes from or risk fines

birch plywood

The European Commission’s latest Birch Plywood ruling is a reminder for UK merchants to check the origins of their own timber supplies, says David Hopkins, CEO of Timber Development UK.

The European Commission has extended its anti-dumping duties to include Türkiye and Kazakhstan following an investigation into the circumvention of the ban on imports of birch plywood from Russia.

Volumes of birch plywood crossing the EU border from Türkiye and Kazakhstan have surged since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when a ban on the import of Russian timber – including birch plywood – was introduced. The anti-dumping duty regulation was originally established in November 2021 to counter unfair trading practices.

The Commission has concluded that the anti-dumping measures imposed on imports of plywood originating in Russia are being systematically circumvented by imports of the product through third-party countries, such as Kazakhstan and Türkiye. Neither country was previously known as a significant exporter of this type of plywood.

As a result, the Commission has extended the 15.8% anti-dumping duties to include imports from these two countries, with importers estimated to be facing EUR 10 million in retroactive duty payments. This marks a significant crackdown on these unlawful practices.

The UK is no longer a party to EU anti-dumping measures, but imports of wood products sourced from Russia have been illegal to import into the UK since the start of the conflict, no matter whether they are imported directly from Russia or via a third-party country.

All birch plywood imports that cross the EU border with a declared country of origin of either Türkiye or Kazakhstan will now require additional registration as part of the customs declaration process. However, given the high-risk nature of sourcing this timber from either of these countries, we would urge any merchant still sourcing these products to find alternate sources as a matter of urgency.

At TDUK we have been working with our members ever since the Ukraine war began to highlight these continued imports of illegal birch plywood, with a number of specific cases being referred to UK regulators for further investigation.

All wood products from Russia remain classified as ‘conflict timber’ and, as such, are considered illegal to import to the UK under the EU/UK Timber Regulations. Any Russian timber products found for sale in the UK and EU markets may subject the importers, and any customers who purchased these products, to legal action, fines and reputational damage, which would also impact their trading partners in the manufacturing country.

Merchants must remain vigilant and always do your due diligence with potential new suppliers of any timber, but especially those working with products that could be considered conflict timber.

More details on the current sanctions can be found online at www.timberdevelopment.uk