Wyden Calls on Peru to Step Up Campaign Against Illegal Timber
New Report Requested by Wyden Shows Need for Continued Reform of Forestry Sector
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called on Peru to take additional measures to combat illegally harvested and traded timber, following a new report on continuing shortcomings in Peru’s efforts to enforce its own forestry laws. Wyden requested the report earlier this year.
“The report provided by Peru demonstrates that it has much more work to do to enforce its laws and to stop trade in illegally taken timber,” Senator Wyden said. “Illegal timber costs American jobs and damages ecologically critical rainforest. I strongly urge Peru’s new government to promptly act on the recommendations provided by the Obama Administration today, and that U.S. Agencies — particularly U.S. Fish and Wildlife — redouble their efforts to identify and interdict illegally taken timber.”
On February 11 of this year, Wyden asked the United States to formally request that Peru verify whether certain companies shipping timber to the United States are complying with Peru’s forestry laws, many of which are required by the U.S.-Peru trade agreement that created new obligations for Peru to address illegally harvested timber. On February 26, the Obama Administration made the request and, under terms established by the Peru trade agreement, Peru responded with a comprehensive and detailed report that indicates shortcomings in the application and enforcement of Peru’s forestry laws.
The verification that was requested by the United States is one of several enforcement tools established by the Peru trade agreement to address illegal timber trade. Under the trade agreement’s forestry annex, Peru is required to conduct verifications upon request of the United States of companies shipping timber to the United States. The agreement provides that these verifications would include site visits to any enterprise in the chain of production or transportation as well as inspection of documents relating to the company’s compliance with Peru’s forestry laws. Peru was required to provide the United States with a written report on the results of its verification, including supporting documentation.
Senator Wyden has worked for years to fight against the illegal timber trade. Most recently, he coauthored a newly enacted law to improve the response of U.S. agencies to cases in which illegally harvested timber enters the United States. Specifically, section 606 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act requires U.S. Customs agents to have the training needed to detect and seize illegally imported wood, among other items. Furthermore, in 2008 Wyden authored changes to the Lacey Act to make it illegal to import downstream wood products made with illegally harvested timber.
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