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Free Trade and Regulation

As in national regulation (there is no law regulating private timber operations in the U.S., nor in many U.S. states), there is weak or non-existent oversight at the international level. Timber poaching and smuggling sometimes surpasses legal cutting and trade. In reality, many of the organizations which profess to regulate or set standards for the timber trade actually do more promoting than anything else.

Asia-Pacific Tropical Timber Organisation (ATTO).
Established in 1990 from Southeast Asia Log Providers Association), expanded to include South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (United Nations FAO). Rome. http://www.fao.org/ Fifty years old. Has 219 field projects (69 in Africa, 76 in Asia-Pacific, 35 in Latin America, 39 in Near East ad Europe) with a budget of $58 million. See list of FAO publications in section on Overviews of the Global Timber Industry).

International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). Yokohama, Japan. http://www.itto.or.jp/ established in 1986 under the ITT Agreement of 1983. The ITT Council has 53 member governments and the European Union, representing 75 percent of the world's tropical forest and 90 percent of the tropical timber trade. The International Tropical Timber Agreement itself is available as United Nations publications E.94.II.D.23.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Implications of the Uruguay Round for Trade in Wood and Wood Products. Geneva: UNCTD/COM/75, 1996. (Trends and trade, especially regarding market access and environmental measures affecting trade).

The U.S. Trade Representative is influenced by industry-only Industry Sector Advisory Commitees (ISACs). To see which U.S. corporations and industry lobbying groups are on these ISACs, go to the USTR web site http://www.ita.doc.gov/icp/ and look at the 17 ISACs listed at http://www.ita.doc.gov/icp/isac.html and the Industry Functional Advisory Committees (IFACs) listed at http://www.ita.doc.gov/icp/ifac.html

There are also many "non-timber" agencies which promote and subsidize the timber trade and timber corporations, including most of the multilateral banks (such as the World Bank), "foreign" aid agencies (such as MITI in Japan, and the Agency for International Development, the Export-Import Bank, and the Trade and Development Agency in the U.S.) and political risk insurance agencies (such as the U.S. Department of State's Overseas Private Investment Corporation). See the listings for "Proposed Timber Operations and Other Investment Warnings" in the section on Financial Data & Corporate Assets.

In addition, regional and global "free trade" agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) are accelerating the exploitation of the world's remaining forests. For an early review of the impacts of globalization on forests and forest policy, see Victor Menotti's "The Decline of Forest Health Since Rio: Ecology Loses to Globalization, in the International Forum on Globalization's IFG News, Issue 2, Summer 1997.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's Investing, Licensing and Trading Conditions Abroad is an annual publication which covers various countries' current policies.


On the positive side, there are organizations which help protect agency employees of good conscience and courage. They include:

Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (AFSEEE), PO Box 11615, Eugene OR 97440, 541-484-2692.

Public Employees for Environmental Ethics (PEER), Washington DC.


U.S. national and state forestry and natural resource agencies can be found through the excellent Capitol Reports Newslink Environmental directory at http://www.caprep.com/