There are no fewer than 140 countries, at this point in time, with which Italy has a trade relationship where it comes to timber trading. Five of its biggest partners where it comes to import of wood or timber at this point in time, by virtue of size, are as follows in the descending order:
In 2019 itself, which is the year basis the ranking of the above five diverse nations, Italy had already imported from Germany timber worth a massive sum of $1907,557.97
Interestingly, Italy, the land of pizza, pasta, Renaissance art and, of course, star-studded sports cars, the list of which is endless also exports a large quantum of wood to the wider world.
It’s foremost export trading partners, in this regard, happen to be nations like- France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
But this is a bit interesting in that of the most popular export items that Italy sends out to the world, wood is nowhere to be found if one were to make a top-ten list, with prominent items such as- Machinery (including computers), Vehicles, Pharmaceuticals, Plastic and Plastic items and Furniture, including bedding and other accessories and articles being the leading export items.
Yet, where it stands at the moment, a country that’s been regularly been involved with both import and export of timber (or wood) has come to make dubious headlines with regards to timber trading.
It may not be incorrect to state, therefore, that timber trading in Italy isn’t the most legitimate activity that is happening at this point in time.
This leaves us to jump directly into a question that may no longer be avoidable, since it has already copped bad news:
Is there some serious illegitimate activity happening with regards to timber trading in Italy? What has gone wrong with timber trading in Italy?
Furthermore, if there is anything suspicious happening at this point in time, then who could be blamed for it?
To put it succinctly, the following is what The Wire’s Science section had to report:
- Negligible fines and inadequate enforcement are turning Italy into a hotspot for illegal Myanmar timber, a new report says.
- At least 27 Italian traders have been importing Burmese teak into Europe despite timber imports from Myanmar being against the law.
- Italian traders are exploiting the country’s inadequate enforcement to ship timber to the rest of Europe and circumvent the EU’s sanctions and regulations.
That being said, let us dive into a bit more detail and assess where it is that the fishy is happening?
The EU has long prohibited sales of illegal timber products in its markets under its 2013 EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). Not all Myanmar timber comes from illegitimate sources, but the industry’s history of poor governance, lack of documentation, and corruption make conducting adequate due diligence an impossible task. Member states therefore developed a common position in 2017 acknowledging imports of Myanmar timber to be against the law.
In recent years, heightened scrutiny on the illegal timber trade and heavier penalties on errant firms have deterred shipments from Myanmar to many EU countries. But Italian companies have continued to import large quantities of high-value Burmese teak (Tectona grandis), according to the report from UK-based watchdog Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
To sum it up, in essence, what is happening is that Myanmar, that’s been on the losing side of things in that it has persistently, from the onset of 2001 up to 2020 lost a significant part of its tree cover has seen timber being parked in Italy, through dubious and illicit means.
For Italy, it’s a blow to its market standing and emotional equity in that countries and watchdogs can clearly see in this age of digital-savvy minds flooded by information that it is being home to illegally parked timber. What can it do to expedite the removal of such a terrible activity shall form- if at all- a key narrative in the coming days!