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Malaysia – NZ industries condemn illegal logging

5 April 2005

Malaysia – NZ industries condemn illegal logging

New Zealand’s forest industry and the Malaysian Timber Council have issued a joint statement condemning illegal logging.

The statement was agreed at a meeting between industry representatives in Wellington earlier today. The Malaysian Timber Council is accompanying the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities who is visiting New Zealand to observe our forest industry.

Forest Industries Council Chairman Lees Seymour said sustainable forest management was an important issue for industry in both Malaysia and New Zealand. A recent American study found competition from illegally sourced logs depresses world timber prices by up to 16 percent.

“We welcome the opportunity to co-operate with the Malaysian industry in this way. The Malaysians share our concern about the environmental cost of illegal logging and the negative impact on global markets and the principled companies that operate in them,” Mr Seymour said.

“New Zealand forest products certainly compete with timber from countries where illegal logging occurs, especially in overseas markets.”

Mr Seymour said the solution to the illegal logging issue is not a return to trade barriers or protectionist economic policy.

“Tariffs actually increase the cost disparity between using legal wood supply as compared with illegally logged timber. If the costs could be reduced the incentive for illegal logging would actually reduce”.

“Trade liberalisation is actually part of the solution to this problem”.

New Zealand consumers who are concerned to help conserve at risk forests and protect biodiversity have the option of buying New Zealand produced plantation timber, or looking for certified imported product”.

Today’s meeting also welcomed the announcement of the negotiation of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and Malaysia. Other issues discussed included sustainable forest management practices, trade issues and industry co-operation.

A copy of the Malaysia/New Zealand industry statement is attached.

For further information

About Forestry

NZFIC represents and promotes the interests of all sectors involved in the New Zealand forest industry. Membership comprises forestry and wood processing companies and sector associations who collectively own and manage a sustainable, planted production forest resource of 1.8 million hectares.

New Zealand forestry directly employs 26,000 people, accounts for 4 percent of GDP, has annual sales of more than $5 billion and is the country’s third largest export earner at $3.5 billion annually. Through its Vision 2025, the industry aims to become New Zealand’s largest export sector, directly employ 60,000 people, contribute 14 percent of GDP and record an annual turnover of $20 billion.

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE MALAYSIAN AND NEW ZEALAND FOREST INDUSTRIES WELLINGTON, 5 APRIL 2005 SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT

The forest industries of Malaysia and New Zealand, as represented by the Malaysian Timber Council and the New Zealand Forest Industries Council and the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, (“the industries”) met in Wellington, New Zealand on 5 April 2005.

The industries are united in the belief that profitable and competitive forest sectors working in accordance with domestic legislative and regulatory frameworks contribute actively to national economic, environmental and social well-being.

This positive contribution is undermined by activities that do not conform to sustainable forest management, such as illegal logging. The industries therefore condemn such activities and commit to work to find solutions to help those countries affected to overcome the problem. Such activities not only contribute to deforestation but also threaten the viability of legally harvested and traded forest products and are a serious detriment to forest sustainability.

The environmental destruction caused by illegal logging creates negative perceptions of the forest products industry in general. Forest law enforcement is the responsibility of domestic authorities and addressing it at international level raises issues of national sovereignty and interpretation.

Recognising that solutions to illegal logging are likely to be multi-faceted and require different approaches in different countries, the industries urge their governments to co-ordinate closely their respective national policies and approaches with other likeminded countries.

Noting that open international markets contribute to the promotion of sustainable forest management, the industries recommend that governments should resist the temptation to use inappropriate trade measures to respond to the problem of illegal logging. In this regard the industries felt that all practical steps should be taken to promote sustainable forest management according to internationally agreed principles and to support the conservation of forest areas which have been designated for protection by law.

The industries also agreed to continue to support the development of voluntary and credible forest certification systems which can address the problems associated with illegal logging. The industries welcomed the announcement of the negotiation of a free trade agreement between Malaysia and New Zealand which will provide opportunities for further consultation on sustainable forest management.

ENDS

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