THE NEW YORK TIMES URGES THE USA ‘TO GET TOUGH ON TIMBER WITH PERU’

What can the USA do to stop its companies and consumers from contributing to the ongoing deforestation and degradation of the Peruvian Amazon? One supposed measure, enshrined in a so-called ‘Trade Promotion Agreement’ that celebrates its 10th anniversary next month, was that Peru’s forest inspections agency, OSINFOR, remains institutionally ‘independent and separate.’ This is crucial because over the last 10 years or so OSINFOR, far more than any other institution, has taken the lead in exposing just how much illegal timber laundering there is in Peru. Without it, no one would really have any idea what’s going on. 

OSINFOR has effectively been independent since June 2008. . . before the TPA came into force in February 2009. . . but then last month Peru’s president Martin Vizcarra signed a Supreme Decree moving it from the Presidential Council of Ministers (PCM) to the Ministry of Environment. See my recent article in The Ecologist for details.

The New York Times published an article on this issue yesterday. ‘The US should get tough on timber with Peru’, runs the headline. It acknowledges that the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has described Peru’s move as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘‘requested consultations with Peru under the Environment Chapter’ of the trade agreement . . . with the possibility of sanctions still ahead’, although it questions Lighthizer’s reasons for doing so. Two mooted explanations: the USTR is fed up of being ‘lied to and laughed off by Peru’, or ‘to help ease the revised NAFTA treaty.’ (17-01-2019)

David Hill