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WhatWood Global Trends Review EIA: Russian birch products bypass US sanctions via Vietnam

EIA: Russian birch products bypass US sanctions via Vietnam

11 October 2022 ` 19:09  

Russian birch wood is routed through Asia before being shipped to American stores, reports The Washington Post, citing an exclusive report from the Environmental Investigation Agency.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a nonprofit watchdog group based in Britain, has found that most birch products currently being exported from Vietnam to the United States originate in Russia. According to Vietnam customs data, roughly 40,000 m³ of birch wood is transported every month from Russia and China into Vietnam, where it’s assembled into furniture and plywood. These chairs and bed frames end up on the shelves of major American retailers.

The group’s investigators spoke to five Chinese companies accounting for 60% of China’s birch veneer exports to Vietnam and concluded that over 90% of their birch is sourced from Russia. One Chinese wood factory owner told the group that all of the birch their company uses comes from Russia but is repackaged in China and re-exported to Vietnam with China listed as the country of origin.

In April 2022, the Biden administration increased import duties for Russian plywood exporters from 10% to 50%. From March to April, even as direct U.S. imports of Russian birch plunged, birch plywood imports from Vietnam grew by 206%, said the Decorative Hardwoods Association, which represents American hardwood industries.

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