on 16 May 2023
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 superyachts
The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has named 12 major American timber firms found to be importing teak from Myanmar since the start of the 2021 military coup.
The companies are named in the report Acts of Defiance II – US companies break sanctions to import teak from Myanmar.
A redacted version of the report was published in December 2022, with the identities of the 12 companies provided separately to US authorities, including the Department of State and enforcement agencies, to give them the opportunity to investigate and act.
“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,” says EIA forests campaign leader Faith Doherty.
“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 superyachts.
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 says it 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.
- J. 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.
“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,” adds Doherty.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has recently launched a new industry initiative to ensure the yachting sector helps set standards for the origin of its timber.
Starting with the luxury yachts sector, FSC is now focusing on urging the industry to support better sustainability by providing inspiration, business cases and help for developing responsible procurement policies.
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