Danish companies embargoed from selling Burmese teak

On 20th March, Monday, Denmark sanctioned all Danish enterprises from selling teak from Myanmar on all European Union markets.

The decree came after the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in London, produced evidence that Keflico, a Danish timber company, had breached the European Union Timber Regulation. The ruling has also now set a clear precedent for following cases to adhere to.

A statement issued by Denmark’s Environmental Protection Agency reported that audits were performed at seven different Danish enterprises which had imported Burmese teak within the past four years. The results of the audits revealed that the Burmese authorities had not handed over sufficient documents regarding where the hardwood imported had come from, and whether the wood had been legally harvested or not, making it practically impossible for Danish timber companies to bypass bringing in illegally-harvested hardwood. Teak is a highly-prized tropical hardwood utilised for shipbuilding and furniture.

“None of the Danish timber importing companies, which the Environmental Protection Agency visited, could demonstrate that they adequately minimised the risk of importing illegally harvested timber,” the statement – translated from Danish – explained. “The seven companies have now been ordered to follow timber regulation rules.”

While this move might set a precedent in Denmark, the case actually followed a path set by the successful prosecution of Almtra Nordic, a Swedish company, in November 2016, for also breaching the EUTR. The Danish ruling set another precedent for other EUTR Competent Authorities to follow.

“Denmark’s leadership in EUTR enforcement underpins similar rulings already made in Sweden and leaves no doubt that anyone plaving Burmese teak on the EU market under current conditions is in breach of European law,” EIA Forests Campaigner, Peter Cooper, said. “With Denmark setting a clear precedent on a case submitted by EIA, we now expect authorities in Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and the UK (United Kingdom) to rapidly resolve the remaining 12 cases submitted by EIA. The Myanmar Timber Enterprise needs to urgently address illegality within its operations and provide access to independent monitoring of its operations – or risk permanently losing access to Europe’s lucrative teak market.”