February 26,2016

Press Contact:

Keith Chu (202) 224-3789 

Wyden Praises U.S. Efforts to Crack Down on Illegal Timber from Peru

WASHINGTON Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today praised U.S. trade enforcement officials for taking unprecedented new steps to crack down on illegally traded timber from Peru, following Wyden’s call for America to strengthen efforts to stop illegal logging overseas.

“I am pleased that the United States is for the first time using these tools to stop trade in stolen timber from Peru.  The Peru trade deal helped put Peru on the right track when it comes to protecting its forests, but much more must be done to ensure that agreement lives up to its potential to stop illegal loggers who are threatening the forests and the livelihoods of lawful timber producers,” said Senator Wyden.  “Today’s action will help strengthen the hands of trade enforcers in both Peru and the United States to protect the forests from destruction and law-abiding companies from unfair trade.” 

In a letter on Feb. 11, Wyden asked the United States to formally request that Peru verify whether certain companies shipping timber to the United States have complied with Peru’s forestry laws.  His letter followed several recent incidents highlighting ongoing challenges regarding trade in illegally harvested timber products from Peru, including the interception by U.S. customs agents of a large shipment in Houston of Peruvian wood that was suspected to have been illegally harvested. 

While some agencies in Peru, such as OSINFOR, Peru’s forestry enforcement unit, as well as its customs authority and prosecutors, have fought the illegal wood trade, they have in recent months faced a violent backlash.  In addition to harming the planet’s forests, global trade in illegal wood products has been estimated by the World Bank and Interpol to cost both governments and lawful timber producers, including Oregonians, billions of dollars annually.

The verification being 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 is required to provide the United States with a written report on the results of its verification, including supporting documentation, within up to 75 days of the date of the request.

Senator Wyden also has sought improvements in the response of U.S. agencies to cases in which illegally harvested timber enters the United States.  Section 606 of the recently-passed Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act requires U.S. customs agents to have the training they need to detect and seize illegally imported wood, among other items.