Almost seven months after announcing plans to restrict the apparent dumping of Pinewood into the local market, it has been disclosed that importers will have to seek permission to do so from January 1.
Authorities said the decision for Import Permits is necessary to ensure that all lumber are coming from legal sources.
Local producers have been complaining that Pine was entering the country and being sold cheaper than the local lumber.
According to a notice last Sunday in the Kaieteur News, the Ministry of Natural Resources in collaboration with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) disclosed that a decision has been taken by the Government to require importers of timber products with a specific focus on pine lumber to be licensed. This is prescribed by the Forests Act of 2009, and by the National Forestry Policy.
The new system will take effect from January 1, 2018.
“As a consequence of this decision, potential importers of Pine lumber will, as of January 1, 2018, be mandated to seek and obtain an Import Permit prior to importing Pine lumber and other Pine wood products. All relevant information pertaining to the application process will be published shortly,” the public notice said.
It was disclosed that Guyana is in the final stages of a bilateral trade negotiation with the European Union on the establishment of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the EU Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade Initiative (EU-FLEGT).
This process is led by a National Technical Working Group comprising representatives of civil society and NGOs, the private sector and Government.
According to the notice, it was agreed that the decision was necessary for traceability and to ensure that there is a consolidated legality framework for the thorough assessment of all timber products entering and leaving Guyana.
Stakeholders with questions regarding this notice and the rules to be applied for the permit may contact the Guyana Forestry Commission or visit, the notice said.
In April, amidst complaints of unfair competition from foreign pinewood, Government had announced plans to restrict its importation.
The restriction was seen as an incentive to the industry following a decision of the Government to introduce a 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on the local logging industry.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, in April, said that this move will also seek to reverse what he terms the “dumping” of the foreign lumber in Guyana.
“We find that there is some degree of dumping of this foreign lumber coming in. It is crowding out local loggers. We have been receiving complaints from the logging bodies, associations and the producers,” Minister Trotman revealed.
The Minister explained that he will be consulting with pinewood importers before the decision is finalised.
“We would want to ensure that what we do is in the best interest of Guyana, Guyanese and those who will rely on the forest for a livelihood,” Minister Trotman said.
The Natural Resources Minister clarified then that the restriction is not a ban on pinewood.
“We’re going to ensure that pinewood can’t be imported into Guyana, and be sold at a price that is cheaper than locally produced timber,” Trotman explained.
Ensuring value is added to the local logging industry has been a major focus of the Ministry of Natural Resources which has oversight responsibility of the forestry sector, the minister said.
Loggers and lumber yards have been complaining about especially pine lumber which is being imported and sold especially in hardware stores throughout the country.
There were questions about whether pinewood, popular for framing structures, were ideal for the local conditions. It is heavily in use in North America.
In recent years as building materials start climbing, amidst a major housing drive, pinewood started to make its way into the local market. It has been unclear whether any taxes were charged on the wood.
According to the ministry, it recognises the need to provide incentives to local loggers, some of whom are complaining about the 14 percent VAT that was introduced to the sector this year.
Apart from the restriction of pinewood, the Ministry said it has also guaranteed market for local loggers with the government’s housing drive which seeks to provide affordable condominiums and duplexes to prospective homeowners.
The Ministry is also pushing the use of local loggers and lesser used species of wood in infrastructural works carried out by the government as a means of guaranteeing income for local loggers.
“We believe that the incentives that we are offering, and the opportunities that we are offering, will cancel out what is seen as an oppressive 14 percent VAT,” the Minister said.
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