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Weekly Trade Topic: Illegal Logging

09/08/2009 - 1:48pm

The United States has been a leader in promoting sustainable forest management and in drawing international attention to the economic and environmental consequences of illegal logging and associated trade.

USTR contributes to these efforts, including through innovative, trade-related agreements: a bilateral agreement with Indonesia, negotiated under the US-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement; a bilateral agreement with China, negotiated under the Strategic Economic Dialogue; and the Annex on Forest Sector Governance of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement.

In a new initiative that builds on experience with the bilateral MOU, the United States and Indonesia recently convened the first Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue to Promote Trade in Legally Harvested Forest Products.  The dialogue was convened to facilitate government-to-government dialogue on combating illegal trade and promoting legal trade.  In addition to the United States and Indonesia, other countries participating in the dialogue included Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, and Vietnam.  The dialogue concluded with agreement to exchange and compile information on relevant activities, and to convene another regional dialogue with expanded participation.

Common elements in all of these efforts include: consultation between governments as well as within governments among relevant ministries; transparency, including improved information about markets and trade; capacity building to support sustainable management and efforts to improve governance; partnerships between governments and the private sector, including both commercial interests and NGOs; and enforcing obligations.

The United States and Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperating to combat illegal logging and associated trade was concluded in 2006 in the context of a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The MOU establishes a working group under the TIFA to facilitate ongoing consultation, information sharing and enhanced cooperation for capacity building and law enforcement.

The United States and China, two of the largest importers and exporters of forest products, concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on combating illegal logging and associated trade in 2007.  A central element of the MOU is the creation of a forum in which the two countries can work to enhance their cooperation on combating illegal logging and associated trade and on promoting trade in forest products from legally-harvested resources.  Among other things, the United States and China are also using the MOU to improve information sharing and encourage public-private partnerships in order to further efforts to combat illegal logging.

Visit the environment page to find out more about USTR's role in the government's efforts to combat illegal logging and associated trade.