Timber Development UK (TDUK) has issued an urgent warning around the continued import of illegal Russian Birch Plywood and Siberian Larch products to the UK, and is calling on regulators to take action.
Analysis by TDUK, using data obtained from UK HMRC, shows that conflict timber, including Birch Plywood, has continued arriving despite these countries being issued with import sanctions following the illegal invasion of Ukraine.
TDUK is calling on regulators to enforce maximum penalties on any business found to be importing timber products from countries subject to sanctions, namely Russia and Belarus, as it takes a stand together with its members against conflict timber.
David Hopkins, chief executive of TDUK said: “When Ukraine was illegally invaded by Russia, we advised all members to cease trade with Russia and Belarus – even before sanctions were put in place. This was acted on by our importer members, who are audited every year by an independent third party through our Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) system.
“We deeply appreciate the effort from all of our members, who worked with us as far back as 8 March 2022 – when we first advised to cease trading goods with Russia and Belarus – pre-empting official sanctions. This was acted on by our importer members, who are audited every year by an independent third party through our Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) system.
“It has been disappointing since to see a small number of bad actors in the market would continue to import from these countries.
“Under UK and EU sanctions on Russia and Belarus, as well as the EU and UK Timber Regulation (UKTR), there are currently no legal avenues for the importation timber products from these sanctioned countries into the UK, either directly or indirectly via third-party countries.
“It is also impossible to retroactively declare timber of Russian or Belarusian origin as legal under the UKTR, unless they are proven to be pre-conflict goods.
“Businesses who evade sanctions undermine those who play by the rules, creating an unfair and anti-competitive market, and threaten the reputation of our industry. The regulator must take on a zero-tolerance stance to timber from these sanctioned sources to maintain a fair market, which rewards good actors.
“We are proud of the work our members do to ensure that timber in the UK comes from sustainable, conflict free sources. Only strong action by the regulator will ensure this is not undermined.”
Contact Nick Boulton for more information.