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Liberian Timber

Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 24 March 2003, Official Report, column 33W, if she will take steps to prevent Liberian timber being sold in the UK. [106669]

I have been asked to reply.The UN imposed sanctions on Liberia as a result of the Liberian Government"s complicity in fuelling the conflict in Sierra Leone. Liberia remains a serious threat to the stability of the sub-region. We believe sanctions should be maintained until Liberia stops its destabilising efforts in the region and meets in full the demands of the UN Security Council.We share the concern of the UN Panel of Experts that the revenues from timber sales are being used to fund arms purchases in breach of UN sanctions. In resolution 1408(2002) the UN Security Council called on the Government of Liberia to undertake the audit of shipping and timber revenues and to use the revenues from the timber trade for social, development and humanitarian purposes.We have played a leading role in trying to restrict the Government of Liberia's sanction-busting activities. We will be calling for the Council to examine all sources of revenue, including timber sales, used to make arms purchases, and to consider ways of addressing the problem in order to prevent the Liberian regime from making illicit arms purchases.The Government support the Africa Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (AFLEG) process, which calls on all African governments and trading partners to take action to control illegal activities in the logging sector and associated trade. The UK will be represented at an AFLEG conference in April 2003 to push this process forward.