exports of tropical timber (assumes
all exports of logs and sawn wood to India derive from plantations)
Source: based on UN Comtrade
The imports of logs, sawn wood and veneer of China and the EU-28 from Ivory Coast
China's imports of "rosewood" logs from Ivory Coast
as above, customs code 44039930)
The surge in imports coincides with early negotiations between the EU and Ivory Coast concerning a Voluntary Partnership Agreement which sets out to assist Ivory Coast improve forest governance so that the timber which it exports complies with a legality assurance system sufficient to meet the requirments of the EU's FLEGT Action Plan (which, since 03 03 2013, includes both implementation of a prohibition against illegal wood-based products within the EU and a requirement for those placing wood-based products on the EU market to ensure that the risk that those products have a negligible risk of being illegal
The European Commission and its agents appear to either be unaware of or are choosing to ignore the supply chains of China's imports of logs from Ivory Coast. Arguably however, this is not unreasonable, given that VPAs are nothing more than an open-ended political process.
Similar supply chains have been apparent in Ghana since 2010 - the EC has for several years been first negotiating and then seeking to implement a VPA with Ghana. The VPA negotiations with Ivory Coast could have benefitted from experience from Ghana had the EC and its agents noticed and sought to address those supply chains in Ghana.
The post-Independence government permitted a major expansion in the commercial exploitation of Ivory Coast's forests, so much so that the country became much the leading exporter of tropical timber in Africa. This led to severe degradation of the country's forests and facilitated the encroachment of subsistence and export-oriented cash crop agriculture - which now poses a major threat to the forest ecosystems that remain.
A number of the companies that participated in (and presumably profited from) this expansion / degradation have diversified or shifted their activities to countries within the Congo Basin - initially Cameroon. Many are members of the ATIBT and IFIA (organisations which are scarcely representative given that their membership does not include African, Lebanese or ethnic Chinese companies). Entrepreneurs from the Lebanese diaspora and Italian expatriates have a major presence in the country's timber industry.
Italy has been the predominant destination for many years. Spain appears to have taken up the slack created by France's (and others') response to the ban on log exports that became effective in the late 1990s - France's primary interest in African tropical timber is in logs.
Although East Asia has not become a substantial export market for timber from Ivory Coast, it is likely to be a market for timber (primarily logs) from Liberia that are being exported through Ivory Coast. Growth in India's imports from the Ivory Coast coincided with the absence of exports from Liberia.
It seems that
Ivory Coast's forests (and particularly of certain species)[p76]
are largely exhausted and that much industrial roundwood production
derives from premature logging, logging outside the area authorised
and logging in excess of quota[p75].
The World Bank has suggested that the market in Ivory Coast could
import as much as one million cubic metres of tropical timber annually
in order to meet its needs - but this is exceptionally optimistic
(especially given the its current policy - supported by Norway - of
prohibiting industrial-scale logging).