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December 21, 2020

UK-EU timber products trade subject to due diligence

UK-EU timber products trade subject to due diligence

From 1st January, the EUTR will be replaced in the UK by the UK Timber Regulation (UKTR). The scope of UKTR, in terms of regulated ‘timber and timber products’ is the same as EUTR.

The requirements established for an “Operator” in the EUTR, defined as the first placer of the timber and timber product on the EU market, will apply to the first placer on the UK market in UKTR. UKTR obligations are identical to EUTR, requiring operators to exercise due diligence to ensure negligible risk of illegal harvest when placing products on the UK market.

The “Green Lane” for products covered by FLEGT licenses and CITES certificates imported directly into the UK apply equally to UKTR. However, if a product is imported into the EU with a FLEGT license or a CITES certificate and then subsequently shipped to the UK, the UK operator would be required to undertake due diligence with respect to that timber.

This highlights that the most significant change with respect to the scope of the UKTR relative to EUTR is that it imposes due diligence requirements on all UK timber and timber product imports, including those from inside the EU. The same of course applies to (much more modest) EU imports from the UK.

As the representative of one large UK hardwood importer noted when discussing the new UKTR at the online London Hardwood Club (LHC) meeting on 9th September “it will be interesting to see how well due diligence is being carried out in other EU countries.

It is possible that UK regulators will conclude that some products accepted as compliant to EUTR due diligence requirements do not meet UKTR requirements. A concern in relation to EUTR is that enforcement is not uniform across the EU and UK importers will now have to take that into account in their due diligence”.

Another issue raised at the LHC meeting related to commercial confidentiality. It was suggested that the need to identify the source of wood products to mitigate risk under UKTR may present another obstacle to UK hardwood importers buying from EU distributors. EU operators may be reluctant to identify their overseas suppliers to their customers in the UK. The same applies to UK distributors selling into the EU.

To support UK importers implement the UKTR, the Timber Trade Federation has developed a free interactive toolkit. The toolkit runs through the due diligence process step by step, providing guidance on information gathering (what questions to ask and data sources to use) and on risk identification. It generates a pdf report of the due diligence steps undertaken with respect to individual products that can be used for compliance purposes.



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