As Myanmar suffers escalating violence under the military coup, one teak trading company has been caught boasting about continuing to import timber regardless of the consequences.
Gold Teak Holding, a Singaporean company with operations in Myanmar and Italy, posted a photo on its LinkedIn profile yesterday showing a container of timber with the caption “An other [sic] cargo carried out despite COVID-19 and #Myanmarcoup”.
Gold Teak Holding has been on EIA’s radar before – in August 2016, our investigators approached the firm in Singapore to inquire about its timber supply chain, suspecting it was trading into the EU in violation of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) because it could not verify the origin or legality of its timber.
EIA viewed the due diligence information provided by Gold Teak Holding and found it failed to provide basic information, including who harvested the timber, where it was logged and any confirmation that relevant laws were complied with.
As a consequence, EIA filed a substantiated concern against the company in the Netherlands for supplying a shipment of six tonnes of illicit Myanmar teak to a company in Rotterdam.
Gold Teak Holding has an Italian operation (GTH Italia) which regularly imports Myanmar teak into the EU. EIA has viewed customs data showing shipments into Italy as recently as October 2020; all imports by GTH Italia have been into the port of Venice.
If the container shown in the photo is headed for the EU, it should be seized by authorities as non-compliant with the EUTR. In particular, Italian authorities in Venice should be on the alert for shipments of teak destined for GTH Italia.
In addition to Gold Teak Holding’s shipment, EIA is also aware of two separate shipments of timber imported into the US from Myanmar since the military coup. One was of 17 tonnes of teak scantlings (timber beams of small cross section) imported by Techtona LLC and the other comprised 10 tonnes of teak furniture imported by Apex Maritime Co. The shipments both left Yangon on February 14, two weeks after the military coup.
EIA will be sending an alert to possible destinations for both shipments – the EU, UK and US – to make it clear to the authorities that this timber cannot comply with current laws.
Faith Doherty, EIA Forests Campaigns Leader, said: “To boast about continuing to trade in Myanmar’s illegal and tainted timber in the current circumstances is despicable.
“It shows nothing but contempt for the struggle of the people of Myanmar and for the violence being done to them.”
Within Myanmar, the civil disobedience movement resisting the military coup has incorporated strikes and the stopping of economic activity as a major part of its campaign and workers at the Forest Department and State-run Myanmar Timber Enterprise have refused to go to work in protest at the coup.
Our expert campaigners maintain that continuing to trade in Burmese teak is supporting the junta, not the resistance.