July 2005

Global forest and paper industries seek fair trade

A delegation from the international forest and paper industry was in Geneva June 7-9 to press the industry’s case for trade liberalization in the wood and paper sectors through World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Development Agenda.

Representatives from Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. had been making their case directly to government negotiators and the WTO during a series of meetings. This is the third such visit by industry representatives and marks the first time delegates from the Malaysian Timber Council and the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) have joined as observers.

“We’re here to raise the flag for the forest and paper industry in Geneva,” said Stephen Jacobi, chief executive of the New Zealand Forest Industries Council.

“We want a positive outcome for our sector from the WTO negotiations for both developing and developed countries. Forest products exports from developing countries are increasing rapidly – exports from Brazil, China, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa and Thailand increased by as much as 47% between 1988 and 2003. That puts our sector is in a strong position to contribute significantly to the development goals of the Doha agenda.”

The visit to Geneva came on the heels of a major gathering of global forest industry representatives held in Vancouver, Canada. CEOs from 21 countries agreed on the need to eliminate tariffs and address non tariff barriers. In the case of some countries it was noted that tariff elimination would need to be implemented over an agreed upon period of time.

“The message from Vancouver is that our CEOs support trade liberalization in our sector. That brings a powerful commercial voice to bear in the negotiations”, said Ann Wrobleski, vice president, International, of the American Forest & Paper Association.


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