US timber traders help support Myanmar’s brutal junta by skirting laws to import illicit teak
Today (16 May), EIA names 12 major American timber firms importing teak from Myanmar since the start of the 2021 military coup.
The companies are named in our new report Acts of Defiance II – US companies break sanctions to import teak from Myanmar.
A redacted version of the report was published in December last year, with the identities of the 12 provided separately to US authorities, including the Department of State and enforcement agencies, to give them opportunity to investigate and act.
Forests Campaign Leader Faith Doherty said: “The US Government needs to show political will and leverage its resources to enforce sanctions and the US Lacey Act 2008 to stop the trade in illicit timber and profits supporting the criminal, brutal Myanmar regime and its cronies.
“It’s no secret what’s happening and it’s not complicated – but without action, it’s no wonder US-based traders blithely continue to import Myanmar’s blood teak when they know there will be no consequences for them. That is not acceptable.”
Myanmar is one of the world’s biggest producers of high-quality natural teak, prized for its water-resistant properties and much sought-after for decking and fixtures on the superyachts of the wealthy.
But teak imports into America are de facto prohibited by US sanctions; the species also cannot be traded in compliance with the amended Lacey Act, which bans imports of goods in violation of any foreign law protecting or regulating plant species.
However, EIA investigators found many of the US timber importers were seeking to circumvent the law by using the ‘stockpile narrative’, a sleight-of-hand in which they claim their teak was purchased from Myanmar stockpiles and paid for before sanctions were imposed in April 2021. EIA has seen no evidence that this is the case.
The 12 companies named in Acts of Defiance II, and the volumes of Myanmar teak they have imported, are:
- East Teak Fine Hardwoods – 1,357.95 tonnes
- Gibson McIlvain Co Inc – 1,200.83 tonnes
- Florida Teak (importing as Global Dynamics Capital LLC) – 151.85 tonnes
- World Panel Products Inc – 62.51 tonnes
- Hardwood Co Inc – 41.05 tonnes
- Yacht Deck – 29.06 tonnes
- Teakdecking Systems – 25 tonnes
- Techtona LLC – 17.72 tonnes
- Lumberbest Co Inc – 17.42 tonnes
- Kingsley Bate Warehouse – 14.04 tonnes
- Roberts Plywood Co – 13.32 tonnes
- Cft Cargo Inc – 1.56 tonnes.
Since EIA published the first version of this report, 308.24 tonnes of Myanmar teak were imported into the US. If deforestation in Myanmar continues at its current rate, the country’s forests will disappear by 2035.
Doherty added: “The US Government must act against all those involved in the trade of blood timber from Myanmar, using the full weight of the law to prevent profits from timber supporting the military regime and its cronies.”