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Over 40% of tropical timber exported by Colombia in the last decade was illegal

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In addition to the environmental impact of the destruction of these ecosystems, a study by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) revealed that the country loses millions of dollars due to the illegal export of tropical timber.

According to GFI researchers, between 2008 and 2019 more than 40% of the country’s exports of this material were found to be illegal, generating losses of US$65.6 million for Colombia.

, Over 40% of tropical timber exported by Colombia in the last decade was illegal
Every year Colombia loses, on average, more than 150,000 hectares of forest due to different activities such as illegal logging, extensive cattle ranching or the planting of illicit crops. (Photo internet reproduction)

“Colombia reported US$65.6 million less in timber exports compared to the figure declared by trading partners receiving the products,” the GFI document detailed.

The trade analysis, “A look at fraudulent invoicing and the international timber trade in Colombia”, compares the country’s reported exports with the imports received by its trading partners, many of which do not match and show trade irregularities by those who trade them.

“The greater the gap between the value, volume or frequency reported by the exporter and that received by the importer, the greater the suspicion of improper or fraudulent invoicing,” said the authors of the study, who added that in this period the country had a total value gap of US$168.9 million for exports of timber and derivatives.

This figure is the result of the difference between what Colombia reported as exported and what the timber importing countries received. One of the most striking cases is that of Panama, with which a gap of US$37.3 million was found, close to a quarter of the total.

The study also found that China and India are the countries with the highest levels of improper or fraudulent invoicing, so it is important that the national authorities evaluate and control these operations and ensure compliance with current regulations.

According to Colombian law, “it is not possible to export raw timber or timber in the primary production phase unless it comes from a commercial plantation. However, a high percentage of exports do not come from this segment,” explains the Washington-based organization.

In addition, it suggests that the control entities request the required documentation to prove the origin of this material and prevent primary wood from natural forests from leaving the country, thus attacking this illegal business.

Another measure suggested by the study is that the authorities make more rigorous controls on exports that are suspected of fraudulent commercial invoicing, especially in those transactions whose price is well below or well above the average.

“Fraudulent invoicing negatively impacts national and international efforts to combat deforestation of Colombian forests,” add the researchers, who emphasize that illegal logging is a major threat to the environment, indigenous communities, the economy and impedes the fight against climate change.

For GFI’s director of illicit trade and author of the report, Channing Mavrellis, the Colombian government needs to improve the strategy to combat fraudulent invoicing in the international trade of timber and derivatives.

“This will be a critical and fundamental step in safeguarding Colombia’s forests and ecosystem biodiversity,” said Mavrellis, who explained that although this is not the main reason for deforestation in the country, if left unchecked it will continue to undermine government efforts to protect forests and jungles.

Source: Semana

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