The ongoing threat to Indonesia’s legal timber trade
In March 2020, we reported how the Indonesian Government had issued Ministry of Trade Regulation 15/2020, a move which would have drastically undermined the credibility of its legal timber product supplies to international markets.
The new regulation was due to come into force on 27 May 2020.
However, following an international backlash – led by EIA and our Indonesian partner Kaoem Telapak – the Government made a sharp U-turn and revoked Regulation 15/2020.
Under the pretence of an economic stimulus in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the proposed change had sought to substantially weaken the national Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) through large scale deregulation.
But this would have re-incentivised illegal logging and illicit trade, effectively sweeping away all progress made under Indonesia’s commitment to good forest governance and efforts to halt deforestation.
In pursuit of short-term gain, it would have caused the ruination of people’s livelihoods, increased biodiversity loss and further fuelled the global climate crisis.
Ultimately, the fallacy of quick economic gain through deregulation would have caused Indonesia to lose its unique position in the licensed timber market and tarnished the country’s reputation.
Although the Government has now abandoned its proposal and returned to the status quo, the impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy remains and is ongoing – raising the prospect of further attempts to dilute legislation protecting its precious forests.
We and Kaoem Telapak will be keeping a watching brief on the situation – and will vigorous opposing any future attempts to change the rules and allow stolen timber back into its exports.