Photo credit: The Sabah Foundation
More than 100 customs officers and representatives from the timber trade in Malaysia met in Putrajaya on Monday to develop guidelines to combat illicit timber trading. The national workshop was organised by the Ministry of Plantations Industries and Commodities (MPIC), Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB), Royal Malaysian Customs and TRAFFIC, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and ITTO, as part of ITTO’s Biennial Work Programme for the year 2015/2016.
“Malaysia needs to be vigilant and diligent to ensure illegal logging and illegal timber trade does not threaten our nation and its natural resources,” said Madam Hajjah Norchahaya Hashim, deputy director general, Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB).
Customs officers have a vital role in ensuring only legally-sourced timber is imported, exported or transits through Malaysia. However, there is a constant danger that illegally–sourced timber can enter the supply chain and be mixed with legally sourced material.
Steven Johnson, officer-in-charge of ITTO said, “This initiative will allow customs officers in ITTO member countries to support national policies and efforts of agencies working in the forestry sector to contribute towards safeguarding the economic, social and environmental values of their forests.”
Timber is the most valuable natural resource commodity traded globally with an annual turnover estimated in excess of US$300 billion. In 2015, Malaysia alone exported timber and timber products valued at US$5.46 billion, according to ITTO.
But illegal trade continues to threaten sustainable forest management, with illegal logging estimated to cost the world economy between US$30-100 billion or about 10-30% of the total global timber trade each year.