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Import permit, but no ban, for foreign wood species coming

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The Ministry of Natural Resources has announced plans to introduce an import permit for foreign wood species, with Minister Raphael Trotman saying it was “troubling” that a forest-rich country like Guyana has to resort to importing wood.

Speaking to representatives of local millers and hardware stores at a recent meeting, Minister Trotman stressed the point that local standards must be raised in order to change the trend of a preference for foreign products.

He said that while the Government intends to introduce an import permit for foreign wood species, it has no intention to ban imports of foreign wood, though finds it troubling that a country with a strong tradition of being a forest country has to resort to wood imports to meet local demand. This, he noted, is an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to stand.

In a statement, the Ministry said the Guyana Forestry Commission plans to partner with local saw millers and hardware stores to promote lesser used wood species in efforts to scale back on the importation of pine wood.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, during the meeting with Trotman, local hardware dealers and lumber suppliers said they usually encounter difficulties in sourcing quality local lumber. Some said the local lumber was not being properly kiln-dried and on top of that local forestry operators have proven to be unreliable. The local dealers also noted that their customers have shown a preference for imported pine wood.

Among the local businesses represented were Jettoo’s Lumber Yard, Gafoor’s, National Hardware, Builders’ Lumber Yard and Chetram’s.

The local dealers were informed that because Guyana will be initialising the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union as part of the EU-FLEGT programme, all imports of forest products into Guyana will have to satisfy strict guidelines regarding legality of their source.

The local suppliers say the challenges faced had stemmed from a lack of financing to make the capital investments to bringlocal products up to the standard of the imported pine wood.

In discussion with the local businesses in the forest sector, along with the GFC and the Forest Products Development and Marketing Council Guyana Inc., it was decided at the meeting that the Ministry of Natural Resources will support an exhibition towards the end of October 2017. At this exhibition, local producers will have an opportunity to display lesser known species of local woods as alternatives to the imported pine and other woods.

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