U.S. agrees to launch negotiations with Indonesia on illegal logging | VailDaily.com

U.S. agrees to launch negotiations with Indonesia on illegal logging

WASHINGTON – The United States and Indonesia agreed on Tuesday to begin negotiations on a trade agreement to combat illegal logging of forests in Indonesia.The negotiations were announced following two days of meetings between U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Indonesian Minister of Trade Mari Pangestu.”This is a unique opportunity to strengthen our cooperation with Indonesia to better protect Indonesia’s parks, forests and sensitive habitats from illegal logging,” Portman said in a statement.Portman’s office said in a fact sheet that the new agreement on logging would seek to support existing efforts Indonesia is making in this area while making sure that Indonesia’s legally produced timber and wood products continue to have access to the U.S. market.U.S. lumber companies applauded the announcement, saying studies show that the price of legally produced U.S. lumber is reduced by more than $460 million annually because of competition from illegally produced timber.”The flood of illegal timber into world markets drives down the value of legally sourced timber,” said W. Henson Moore, president of the American Forest & Paper Association. “These negotiations are a key step toward making real progress in the fight against illegal logging.”Environmental groups contend that consumers in America, Europe and Japan are buying furniture built in China unaware that much of the timber is being imported from countries where illegal logging is rampant.Imports of wood products from China bound for the United States and the European Union have increased almost 900 percent since 1998, according to a report from the U.S.-based Forest Trends and the Center for International Forestry Research.The report said that China has become the world’s leading importer of wood from tropical, developing countries such as Indonesia.—On the Net:U.S. Trade Representative: http://www.ustr.govVail, Colorado

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