Government to introduce import permit for foreign wood- Trotman

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…says forest producing country resorting to imports to meet local demand troubling

Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, met with a number of local hardware stores and lumber yard representatives on Thursday to discuss options to mitigate the high local demand for foreign pine wood, especially from the United States.

Local hardware stores and lumber yard representatives meeting with Minister Trotman

This meeting was part of the Ministry’s ongoing consultations with stakeholders on the impact of large quantities of imported pine wood on the local timber industry.

During the meeting, the local hardware dealers and lumber suppliers spoke of the difficulties they usually encounter in sourcing quality local lumber for their customers. Issues with the local lumber included not being properly kiln-dried and uncertainty of supply. Some of the operators expressed an interest and desire to sell the local lumber but complained that they were not getting the reliability from the local forest operators.

Further, they observed that their customers have shown a preference for imported pine wood, which has been found to be in reliable supplies and of a superior quality to local woods. Among the local businesses represented were Jettoo’s Lumber Yard, Gafoor’s, National Hardware, Builders’ Lumber Yard and Chetram’s.

The local dealers were informed that because Guyana will be initialing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union as part of the EU-FLEGT, all imports of forest products into Guyana will have to satisfy strict guidelines regarding legality of their source.

The local suppliers say the challenges faced had stemmed from a lack of financing to make the capital investments to bring local products up to the standard of the imported pine wood.

Speaking to the business persons at the meeting, Minister Trotman stressed the point that local standards must be raised in order to change the trend of the foreign products preference.

He said that while the Government intends to introduce an import permit for foreign wood species, it has no intention to ban imports of foreign wood; though finds it troubling that a country with a strong  tradition of being a forest producing country has to resort to wood imports to meet local demand. This he noted is an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to stand.

In discussion with the local businesses in the forest sector, along with the GFC and the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council Guyana Inc., it was decided at the meeting that the Ministry of Natural Resources will support an exhibition towards the end of October 2017. At this exhibition, local producers will have an opportunity to display lesser known species of local woods as alternatives to the imported pine and other woods.

The Ministry will continue to hold meetings with the forestry stakeholders and businesses with a view to formulating solutions that are sustainable and which will redound to the benefit of the forestry sector.

In April of this year Minister Trotman had said that his Ministry was looking to to restrict the importation of pinewood to reverse what he termed as the “dumping” of the foreign lumber in Guyana.

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