US Lacey Act – A Green Trade Barrier Harms The Developing World’s Poor

Implementation of the Lacey Act’s new provisions uses the specter of illegal deforestation to protect domestic industry

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, World Growth submitted formal comments to the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) review of the implementation of the revised Lacey Act provisions. World Growth concluded that the new amendments passed in 2008 to expand the scope of the Lacey Act to include wood, paper and timber products, are de facto trade barriers, imposing costly and burdensome regulations for entry into the US market, while only benefitting uncompetitive domestic industries.

“At a time when illegal logging rates are decreasing universally and developing world communities are benefitting from sizable investments in well-managed, sustainable forestry operations, the new Lacey Act provisions do little more than erect barriers to entry into the US market. That the justification for using the Lacey Act to mitigate illegal deforestation is based on flawed analysis further illustrates the extent to which domestic politics have influenced trade policy.
 
“Meanwhile, a coalition of unions, industry groups and environmental organizations teamed up to lobby for inclusion of forestry products in the Lacey Act revisions. In collaboration with such organizations as the Rainforest Action Network and the United Steel Workers, the US paper industry has sought to discredit the developing world wood product industry to justify protecting domestic interests.  This demonstrates green protectionism, and risks increased illegal logging as a result. Research demonstrates that poverty is the greatest contributor to illegal logging rates – undermining economic growth is clearly the wrong way to go.”

In its submission to the US Department of Agriculture, World Growth recommends that:

• That pulp and paper products are not included in future phase in plans for products regulated by the Lacey Act. This is supported by the high costs and technical difficulties involved in declaring composite paper products, and the low likelihood of these products containing illegally sourced components.

• In the event that pulp and paper product imports are phased in, they should be harmonized with other import regulations such as common trade groupings; de minimis exceptions; and extended designations for reused/reclaimed materials.

• That US Government prepare detailed cost-benefit assessment to study the impact of Lacey Act regulation on wood products. This assessment should include both a detailed analysis of the global rates of deforestation using impartial contemporary data, an assessment of the risks that such products enter the US market, and the costs involved in implementing the legislation.

Click here to read the submission, Green Protectionism and the Lacey Act.

To speak with World Growth’s experts or find out more about its work, please email media@worldgrowth.org or call +1-866-467-7200.

World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries. At World Growth, we embrace the age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and create jobs and opportunities. World Growth supports the production of palm oil and the use of forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. World Growth believes a robust cultivation of palm oil and forestry provides an effective means of environmental stewardship that can serve as the catalyst for increasing social and economic development.  For more information on World Growth, visit www.worldgrowth.org.

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