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Timber Imports

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to reduce timber imports from Burma. (79550)

There are no current economic sanctions or restrictions on sourcing goods from Burma. However, Government policy is to offer no support to British companies who wish to trade with Burma, informing those who enquire of the grave political situation, the regime's atrocious record on human rights, and its economic mismanagement.

Government are working closely with the NGO Global Witness on how best to protect Burma's forests. Their report, “A Choice For China”, calls for a ban on illegally logged timber. It does not, however, support a ban on all timber from Burma, bearing in mind the complexity of the problem. Instead, Global Witness has called for timber companies not to import illegally logged timber, and for the Chinese Government to suspend imports of logs and processed timber across the China-Burma border. China has taken action by closing its border crossings to timber trucks from Burma. Burma officials have also been trying to stop the trade in recent months, and the military regime suspended tree-cutting, timber transport and log shipments to China at the end of 2005.

Government continues to work through a number of channels with China to tackle the problem of illegal logging in the Asian region.