When selling is more lucrative than protecting: Myanma timber enterprise and the deforestation crisis

For years, Myanmar’s state-owned timber giant has been subject to accusations of corruption and shadowy closed-door dealings. Environmental advocacy groups have long blamed Myanmar Timber Enterprise for operating its industry monopoly without transparency. On November 15, their allegations appeared to gain newfound teeth, substantiated by a landmark overseas lawsuit that has established a new industry precedent. The Swedish courts refused to accept MTE’s certification as proof of legally cut and harvested timber. The court ruled that Swedish company Almtra Nordic had imported Myanmar timber without proving evidence of due diligence in accordance with the EU Timber Regulation. The EUTR was introduced in 2013 with the goal of rooting out illegal timber trading on EU markets. This was the first ever case in which an importer was sued based on failing to abide by the EUTR. Jennie Sverker, a controller for the Swedish Forest Agency, told The Myanmar Times that Myanmar’s timber was disputed because the so-called “green folder” was incomplete. The folder normally contains documentation on specifications, destination invoices, legal certificates and a country of origin statement and a customs declaration.

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