J.E.K. Aggrey-Orleans (ITTO) presented the Secretary Generals report on programme element IV, trade and environment relating to forest goods and services (E/CN.17/IPF/1996/22). The report addresses, inter alia, market access and trade barriers, certification and labelling, full cost internalization and market transparency. Its proposals for action include the formation of a working group, composed of ITTO, UNCTAD, WTO and FAO, to explore procedures for country certification schemes, and efforts by ITTO and UNCTAD to promote harmonization and mutual recognition of standards among certification schemes.
The EU said that the proliferation of different schemes with different criteria could damage the credibility and effectiveness of certification and labelling (C&L). The formation of the working group on country certification schemes is premature. The G- 77/CHINA said the report should consider both market and non-market values of forest- related goods and services. INDONESIA supported the proposed working group but expressed concerned about its composition. The UK stated that IPF should send a strong positive message supporting trade in sustainable forest products and lesser used species. She noted that voluntary certification, if transparent, should be able to prevent technical barriers to trade. PORTUGAL stated that credibility for C&L will only come through broad international consensus, and procedures must be simple, practical and controllable. The AFRICAN TIMBER ORGANIZATION has developed its own initiatives but noted the need for assistance to implement plans. The NETHERLANDS said governments should create the appropriate conditions for C&L, stimulate consumer confidence and avoid a proliferation of schemes.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA supported environmental impact assessments and said IPF should discuss measures to ensure transparency at length. SWITZERLAND said the report must distinguish governmental measures from voluntary private sector measures. She said the proliferation of certification schemes helps to include a variety of stakeholders. WWF recommended research on specific roles for international institutions. CIFOR said that forest-poor countries have not been adequately involved in discussions on this issue. The ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE called for more detailed standards regarding biodiversity. IUCN said the report ignores real problems with international market competition.
AUSTRALIA supported the proposal that ITTO continue to : promote less used species in the international market, provided it does so within context of SFM. GABON said the proliferation of certifiers is a cause for concern and there is a need for market studies. The US said certification is not a magic bullet that will bring about SFM, but is one useful tool that can complement other instruments. Proliferation of and competition among schemes will likely help rather than hamper certification. NORWAY said the discussion of full cost internalization overemphasizes the increased costs of SFM. NEW ZEALAND said the report does not do justice to negative environmental impacts of trade policies. He supported the proposal that ITTO and UNCTAD promote harmonization and mutual recognition.
IRAN said measures affecting trade in forest goods should not decrease the purchasing power of developing countries. ZIMBABWE called for more serious consideration of trade in non-timber forest products and services. UGANDA stated that the report overemphasizes international trade at the expense of domestic and regional trade. He expressed concern about the failure to address unilateral tariffs. CANADA stated that certification systems should be voluntary, non-legislated, non-regulated and include the interests of all major forest stakeholders. Canada is encountering export barriers to Europe due to lack of transparency in eco-labelling programmes. JAPAN said the terminology of certification need to be unified and that it is too early to support the concept of country certification. MALAYSIA called for harmonization and mutual recognition with regard to certification. He said the report was unclear regarding market transparency. COLOMBIA said the reduction of non-tariff and tariff barriers should take place in the context of instruments that seek to control multinationals.
GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL said substitution of forest products can serve to reduce pressures on the worlds forests. Technological innovations can lead to an increase in volume and value of forest products while reducing volumes of wood extracted. The GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT asserted that because certification schemes are private and voluntary, governments have no significant role to play in enforcing harmonization among them. Country certification is extremely controversial, and if efforts move forward, it could trigger a consumer backlash and renew country bans and boycotts of forest products. The ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATION AGENCY called for the formation of an inter-agency task force to assess the extent and impact of illegal logging and other practices detrimental to SFM, especially with respect to the activities of transnational corporations.
An NGO representative said the report emphasizes the benefits of improved market access as if trade liberalization is the primary goal. BRAZIL said the proliferation of certification schemes can lead to discriminatory practices. The CANADIAN PULP AND PAPER ASSOCIATION said improved market access and dismantling tariff and non- tariff trade barriers that accompany trade liberalization are important factors in promoting SFM.
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