Commerce Official Denies Luxury Wood ‘Logs’ Exported to China

A Commerce Ministry official yesterday denied that Cambodia was exporting luxury wood logs to China, insisting that any wood leaving the country was in a “processed” form.

Analysis of official data from China Customs, by a London-based timber consultant, found that 36,000 cubic meters of luxury timber logs, valued at about $61 million, has been documented as imported to China from Cambodia since 2007. Although the Chinese Customs data does not provide an exact definition for a log, it does categorize a log as different to imported sawn wood.

The China Customs data also states that each year, just under 10,000 cubic meters of “logs” and about 15,000 cubic meters of “sawn wood,” of all kinds of timber, have been imported from Cambodia to various ports in China since 2005.

Mao Thora, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, insisted that Cambodia only exports processed wood abroad and not rough timber or logs.

“We export processed woods, like beds, that are already made here and they put it together there,” Mr. Thora said of the country’s official policy on wood exports.

Commerce Ministry figures recorded 42,000 cubic meters of wood exports, valued at $54.5 million, under the broad description of “processed wood” in 2011.

Mr. Thora said that Cambodia earns tax duties on processed wood exports, although he declined to say how much.

According to a 2006 subdecree, “logs, whether debarked or not; Crude or rough sawn timber; Squared logs with a thickness or width of more than 25 cm, even when smoothed” are prohibited from being exported from Cambodia.

According to the China Customs’ data, last year, about 9,800 cubic meters of “logs” from Cambodia under the rosewood category, which applies to a broad range of luxury wood species, was recorded by China Customs.

In the first seven months of this year, about 4,300 cubic meters under the rosewood category have been brought into China from Cambodia, the data show.

Since 2007, the official value of imports under the rosewood category from Cambodia was registered as $61 million by China Customs.

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