PTI NZ hails Solomon Islands-NZ timber agreement

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) New Zealand has praised a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed recently between the Solomon Islands Timber Processors and Exporters Association (SITPEA) and the New Zealand Imported Tropical Timber Group (NZITTG).

The parties at the PTI NZ offices in Auckland: Back row: (L-R) Les McGhie – Timspec, Michael Greenslade PTI Trade Commissioner, Graeme Wallace – Mitre 10, Buster Young, Placemakers, Row McGregor – BBI Wood Products, Hastings, Peter Hutchinson – Simmonds Lumber, Grant Rosoman – Greenpeace, Ian Furlong – Pacific Trade Invest,
Front row (L-R) Shabella Rathamana – Hatanga Solomon Islands, Julius Houria – SITPEA Certification Manager, Solomon Islands, Matthew Carter – Herman Pacific, Andrew Piper – PHAMA Solomon Islands, Malcolm Scott – NZITGG, JSC Timber, Beryl Pitaina – Pacific Export Alliance Group, Solomon Islands.

The agreement could boost the NZ$5 million industry of Solomon Islands sawn timber exported to New Zealand.  Timber accounts for over 90 per cent of Solomon Islands’ total exports to New Zealand. The timber is used mainly as highly durable decking and flooring material.

The MOU leads the way for NZ Timber importers to gain certainty that Solomon Islands sawn timber is harvested legally following sustainable practices and meets New Zealand requirements.

PTI NZ Trade Development Manager Ian Furlong said, “Timber exports from the Solomon Islands are an important part of the Solomon Islands economy and PTI believes that this agreement is a very positive step in enabling Solomon Islands timber export growth in the longer term.”

The Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) programme was instrumental in bringing about the MOU agreement between the various parties.

Through the MOU, both industries have agreed to progress third party certification to meet New Zealand requirements and improve forest management and timber processing in the Solomon Islands.

The MOU sets out dates for SITPEA achieving certification and funding support by NZITTG to ensure sustainability of the certification process. The agreement also gives support toward technical exchanges, work placements and technical advice for machinery.

PTI NZ worked in association with PHAMA to support the initiative and provided facilitation for the industry groups.  The industry meeting to agree on the MOU was held the PTI NZ office.  It was well attended by representatives from PHAMA, SITPEA, New Zealand Timber importers and retailers, Greenpeace and PTI NZ.  The agreement was formally signed in Auckland the following day.

SITPEA are the Solomon Islands Timber industry representatives who have been pursuing sustainability verification and certification.  The NZ Imported Tropical Timber Group are the representative body for most New Zealand Timber importers.

In a PHAMA media release, NZITGG chair, Malcolm Scott said, “We are very pleased with the work of SITPEA and PHAMA to get the timber legality verification process underway.”  Legality verification is becoming essential in order to sell tropical hardwoods in New Zealand so the NZITTG will fully support this initiative he said.

Adam Bartlett, SITPEA President in the release welcomed the agreement with ITTG. “It provides us with a clear understanding of our markets requirements and a basis to collaborate in addressing these issues” he said.

The MOU has been two years in the making. The first exploratory mission was in 2015. During the mission, Solomon Islands Timber representatives met with timber importers in Australia and New Zealand. It established the need for third party verification of sawn timber exports from the Solomon Islands. On returning to the Solomon Islands, SITPEA was formed. Subsequently, an international certification company called NEPCON was engaged to assist the industry in gaining verification of sustainability.

The Solomon Islands sawn timber industry is vital for the survival of the rural areas where it impacts on 6,500 people and provides employment for 1,300 people.

For more information please contact: Ian Furlong, PTI Trade Development Manager on ian.f@pacifictradeinvest.co.nz

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