August 16, 2013 – Forest Ministers of the 24 APEC economies meeting in Peru have effectively isolated Australia and the United States for using trade bans to tackle illegal logging. The APEC statement on forestry follows established UN principles on forestry which promote sustainable forest management in developing countries and eschew trade bans.
“A meeting of Forest Ministers of members of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping (APEC) has effectively isolated Australia and the US for legislating import bans on illegal timber products ,” said Alan Oxley, chairman of free market NGO World Growth, commenting on the result of an APEC meeting which has just concluded in Peru.
Alan Oxley said the communique of this meeting pointedly avoided commending use of such trade bans. He said this moved APEC away from more sympathetic references to trade bans in 2011 when the Obama Administration was chairing APEC .
“The APEC Statement in Peru promotes sustainable forestry and commends its benefits for economic growth. It also contrasts sharply with attitudes in Europe, particularly in the EU and the UK whose governments have run a global campaign for over a decade to demonize and restrict forestry in developing countries,” said Oxley
He said research by World Growth showed none of the standard claims about the extent of illegal logging were independently verifiable and most were based on biased claims by anti-forestry NGOs, particularly Greenpeace and WWF.
US activists a few years back added forest products to the Lacey Act which banned imports of product illegally procured in other countries, he explained.
“NGO lobbying has resulted in new laws in both the EU and Australia to ban imports of illegal timber products. They have been assessed by trade law exports as contravening the rules of the WTO and serving as protectionist barriers against cheaper imports from developing countries,” he said.
Oxley said research showed most illegal logging is caused by the poor clearing land for housing, firewood and food production. He pointed out the standard solution to illegal logging is to raise living standards, not weaken growth by halting forestry. The APEC meeting shows this is the dominant opinion among Asia-Pacific nations, he concluded.
Alan Oxley is the Chairman of World Growth and a former Chairman of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the predecessor to the World Trade Organization.