CITES Policy Updates: Regulatory Compliance and Advocacy
UPDATE: January 2019: The proposal to amend annotation #15 (Dalbergia) has been placed on the official CoP18 Docket.
The proposed annotation #15 amendment is as follows: "All parts and derivatives, except:
- leaves, flowers, pollen, fruits, and seeds;
- finished products to a maximum weight of wood of the listed species of 500g per item;
- finished musical instruments finished musical instrument parts and finished musical instrument accessories;
- Dalbergiaparts and derivatives of cochinchinensis, which are covered by annotation #4;
- spp. originating and exported from Mexico, which Dalbergiaparts and derivatives of are covered by annotation #6"
The proposal will be put in the form of a formal resolution, sponsored by a government body and be formally submitted for consideration at the 18th Conference of the Parties in Sri Lanka in May 2019. If adopted, the change would go into effect sometime in mid-summer 2019. For more information, please contact NAMM's Policy Counsel, Jim Goldberg.
UPDATE: October 2018 CITES Standing Committee Offers Proposed Exemption for Musical Instruments, Parts, and Accessories Containing Dalbergia
An international working group comprised of musical instrument industry representatives completed a major step at the CITES Standing Committee in Sochi, Russia, when the group recommended modification to the annotation covering the listing of all dalbergia species. The proposed modification would exempt all finished musical instruments, finished musical instrument parts and finished musical instrument accessories containing Appendix II dalbergia species from the necessity to obtain an export permit to ship these products internationally, whether for commercial or non-commercial use.
“The outcome is the best we could have hoped for at this point in the process as it would exempt both commercial and non-commercial trade in musical instruments, parts, and accessories from permit requirements,” shared Heather Noonan, Vice President of Advocacy for the League of American Orchestras. “It is important to note that there will be many more steps involved in this order for this recommendation by those assembled in Sochi to move on to a final new annotation adopted by all Parties next May at the Conference of the Parties.”
“We are grateful for the ability to have actively engaged in the CITES process, and we’re hopeful for a positive outcome in Sri Lanka,” added Scott Paul, the Director of Natural Resource Sustainability at Taylor Guitars. “At this point, however, what came out of the Standing Committee is only a recommendation and not a formal proposal but coming out of the meeting with a single, helpful, recommendation is important.”
The recommendation emerged at the CITES Standing Committee meeting in Sochi (October 1-5) where delegates from the CITES member countries agreed that commercial and non-commercial trade in musical instruments is not detrimental to the threatened species under consideration. The group recommended a path forward to a revised annotation, which was adopted by the Standing Committee. At present, the dalbergia statement prepared by the industry working group calls for the use of Harmonized Tariff codes in order to apply an existing reference point. A revised and final version of the Standing Committee’s recommendations will be posted by the Secretariat online soon.
The on-site industry working group in Sochi was supported by NAMM, and headed by Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy for the League of American Orchestras. Participants included John Bennett, International Association of Violin and Bow Makers; Mike Born, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation; Jacques Carbonneaux, French Musical Instrument Organization; David Eynck, Paul Reed Smith Guitars; Rob Garner, ForestBased Solutions; Michael Jousserand, Confederation of European Music Industries; Joe O’Donnell, International Wood Products Association; Scott Paul, Taylor Guitars; and Frank Untermyer, Martin Guitar.
How to Comply
We encourage you to view the two informational webinars below, providing guidance on how to comply with the laws that regulate international trade in wildlife and plants:
- Hosted by the League of American Orchestras and NAMM: New rules for protected species and musical instruments. Access the following: archived webinar, a PDF copy of the slides, or download the MP4 file.
- Hosted by the International Wood Products Association: Guidance on commercial imports and exports of timber and timber products. Listen to the audio recording, here.
Questions and Answers
US Fish and Wildlife Guidance for Commercial Timber and Wood Products Traders; Traveling Musicians; The Sale and Purchase of Instruments by Individuals; Traveling Orchestras and Ensembles and more, can be found here.
If you have a question that is not addressed in the webinars above, or on this page, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or contact NAMM’s counsel, Jim Goldberg of Goldberg & Associates at email@example.com.
Background and Resources:
- 2019 NAMM Show CITES and Musical Instruments Presentation
2019 NAMM Show International Coalition Presentation: CITES and Musical Instruments
January 23, 2019, update on current and pending changes in international requirements for importing and exporting endangered species by Jim Goldberg, Goldberg and Associates, and Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy at League of American Orchestras
- Update: October 2018 - Exemption Proposed for Musical Instruments, Parts, and Accessories
Exemption proposed for musical instruments, musical instrument parts, and accessories containing dalbergia species
An international working group comprised of musical instrument industry representatives achieved a major victory at the recent meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in Sochi, Russia; recommending a modification to the annotation covering the listing of all dalbergia species. The proposed modification would exempt all finished musical instruments, finished musical instrument parts and finished musical instrument accessories containing dalbergia species from the necessity to obtain an export permit to ship these products internationally, whether for commercial or non-commercial use.
The proposal will be put in the form of a resolution to be presented to the 18th Conference of the Parties in Sri Lanka in May 2019. The same industry working group which worked in Sochi will now work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and similar governmental agencies in other countries to draft appropriate language. If adopted at CoP18, the change would go into effect sometime in mid-summer 2019.
The on-site industry working group in Sochi was headed by Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy for the League of American Orchestras and was supported by NAMM.
Music Industry Working Group Statements:
- Update: October 2018 - States stepping up action against the overexploitation of precious timber
CITES annual meeting sees States stepping up action against the overexploitation of precious timber and other species. World’s governments demonstrate resolve on full compliance with the global wildlife trade treaty.
Sochi, October 5, 2018 – The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concludes today it's 70th meeting, agreeing on concrete measures to achieve full compliance with international wildlife trade regulations. The meeting held in Sochi, Russian Federation, from 1 to 5 October attracted a record number of participants, with over 700 representatives from more than 80 States and over 100 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
“The CITES Standing Committee dealt with a myriad of wild species and complex issues in the nexus between conservation, trade and development. The seriousness and determination of Parties to bring international wildlife trade rules to their full strength were demonstrated by the frank and constructive debate and decisions made on compliance issues, including the decisions on African rosewood, sei whales, pangolins, elephant ivory and to rectify the mismanagement of trade in CITES-listed species by certain countries”, said David Morgan, Officer-in-Charge of the CITES Secretariat. “This has again shown the real-world impact of CITES when governments around the world are fully committed to respect their obligations under the treaty. The Secretariat commends all Parties on their cooperation and their commitment to implement and enforce the Convention”.
The Standing Committee debated the “introduction from the sea” of sei whales, which is considered as international trade under CITES, from the western North Pacific population by Japan and determined that this activity was for commercial purposes and therefore not in compliance with the Convention. In response to this conclusion, Japan committed to take swift remedial action, and to delay the departure of the concerned research whaling vessels to the western North Pacific and to not authorize any harvest of the sei whales from the high seas in this region until the Standing Committee has assessed Japan's progress in implementing the remedial actions at its next meeting in May 2019. If not satisfied with the action taken, the Committee may take compliance measures.
The compliance measures that the Committee can take include recommendations to suspend trade in some or all CITES-listed species and represent a unique strength of the Convention. The goal of such measures is to achieve long-term and sustained compliance with the Convention thereby ensuring the survival of the species in the wild. In an effort to better achieve the goal and to support countries in achieving full compliance, the Committee agreed that the development of a Compliance Assistance Programme should be considered by the Conference of the Parties in May 2019.
Compliance assistance is already being provided to Lao People's Democratic Republic, another case of non-compliance considered by the Committee at this meeting. While significant efforts have been deployed by Lao PDR to effectively implement and enforce its CITES obligations, the country continues to be affected by illegal trade and faces challenges to ensure that authorized exports are legal and sustainable. The Committee, therefore, decided to recommend to all Parties that they suspend commercial trade in the high-value Siamese rosewood, including finished products, from Lao PDR until it can be scientifically justified that such exports are sustainable. Lao PDR agreed with the recommendations and committed to report on implementation by 1 February 2019.
The Committee also reviewed compliance issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where considerable progress had been made since the matter was last discussed late in 2017, to address high levels of illegal trade. However, the DRC is still having difficulties to put the proper mechanism in place to ensure that authorized exports are sustainable and was requested to strengthen its Scientific Authorities by building capacity and allocating enough modern resources for making the necessary scientific studies to determine how much can be traded without threatening the survival of the species in the wild. Finally, in view of these persistent challenges, the Committee recommended that Parties suspend trade in grey parrots and in pangolins from the DRC.
The last compliance matter considered by the Committee concerned exports of African rosewood from Nigeria. Since the beginning of 2018, Nigeria has authorized over 180,000 m3 of the precious timber to China and Viet Nam, without first making sure that these exports will not threaten the survival of the species. The Committee decided to recommend suspension of commercial trade in this timber species until Nigeria has made a non-detriment finding for the species in the country.
- Update: September 2018 - USDA/APHIS to Notify Importers of Declaration Errors
USDA-APHIS UPDATE: September 11, 2018
Beginning October 1, 2018, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will notify importers and customs brokers, in most cases by email, when they submit Lacey Act declarations that contain errors. Common errors include: misidentifying the species of imported wood or wood products, listing unlikely country and plant species pairs, submitting incomplete declarations, and/or failing to file a declaration in a timely manner.
NAMM members please note: currently, declarations are only required for pianos and acoustic guitars (HTS categories 9201 and 9202)
Importers who receive a letter of non-compliance do not need to act to correct the declaration in question, but they should take steps to correct future declarations. Repeated failures to correct errors may result in APHIS referring future violations for investigation or potential enforcement action. APHIS is committed to helping importers comply with the Lacey Act’s declaration requirements. Importers who receive a letter of non-compliance and have questions about the error or how to correct it are encouraged to contact the APHIS specialist listed in the letter for guidance.
APHIS also has resources available online to help importers lookup plant genus and species as well as guidance for reporting plant products that are difficult or impossible to identify to the species level, clarification regarding acceptable units of measure, and instructions for reporting shipments that include groupings of certain plant species.
APHIS is responsible for enforcing the Lacey Act plant provision, which requires importers of certain plants and plant products, including items that contain plant materials, to submit a declaration stating the imported plant’s scientific name, value, quantity, and country where the plant was harvested. For more information about the import declaration requirement or the Lacey Act, please visit the APHIS website: www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/lacey_act
- Update: August 2018 - CITES Considers Relaxing Strict Rosewood Regulations
CITES Considers Relaxing Strict Rosewood Regulations
Source: The Music Trades Online August 16, 2018
An ad hoc group of music industry representatives was on hand at the July 26 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva to make the case for revising the strict regulations governing global trade in all species of rosewood (dalbergia) and select species of bubinga (guibourtias). The rules, which were hastily implemented on January 2, 2017, have placed heavy compliance burdens on instrument makers, particularly guitar and clarinet makers, as well as musicians.
Under the current CITES regulations, "range states" where rosewood is harvested must complete export permits verifying that the wood was taken in compliance with all local regulations. Manufacturers who purchase the wood for use in musical instruments must also secure detailed export permits for each instrument to allow for cross-border shipments. Stiff fines can be levied for failing to secure proper permitting, and instruments are subject to confiscation. The rules have also impacted musicians, requiring them to secure permits to carry an instrument across borders.
the meeting in Geneva, the music industry group advocated for a complete permit exemption for finished musical instruments. They argued that musical instruments account for only a small fraction of the commercially harvested rosewood and bubinga, and that musical instrument manufacturers have a long history of complying with existing CITES regulations on the import and export of unfinished wood. They noted that while burdening instrument makers, the new rules have had no impact on forest conservation. Several environmental groups in attendance voiced support for the musical instrument exemption, but the earliest that the CITES Standing Committee could implement a regulation change would be at its May 2019 meeting in Sri Lanka.
- Update: March 2018 - Bipartisan FY18 Spending Bill Offers Help for Protected Species Permit Rules
March 23, 2018.
Language accompanying the bipartisan FY18 spending bill encourages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue to work with stakeholders "to address their concerns related to international trade in wood and wood products" with a reference to recent new rosewood rules under the Convention on International Trade in Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES). The report also encourages the agency to develop a domestic electronic permitting system to expedite processing of legal imports and exports. These policy changes could help ease difficulties musicians encounter when traveling with musical instruments.
- Update: April 2018 - Ivory Exemptions for older musical instruments
April 3, 2018: The MIA, Musicians’ Union, Association of British Orchestras and International Fund for Animal Welfare strongly lobbied the Government for a musical instrument exemption and we are delighted to see that our teamwork has paid off! Good news for our music shops and musicians alike.
A British ban on ivory sales is to be one of the toughest in the world, the environment secretary has said. Michael Gove said the sale of ivory of any age, with limited exceptions, will be banned in an effort to reduce elephant poaching.
In this BBC report, Mr. Gove added that the new law will “reaffirm the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.”
He said: “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.” Those breaking the ban by selling ivory will face a maximum penalty of five years in jail or an unlimited fine, said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It added that the measure is tougher than rules in China and the US. The US currently ban ivory apart from items older than 100 years, as well as items with up to 50% ivory. The Chinese ban exempts “relics”, with no specific date before which these must have been made.
There will still be some exemptions to the ban, designed to provide “balance to ensure people are not unfairly impacted” and for “items which do not contribute to the poaching of elephants,” the department said.
These will include:
- Items comprised of less than 10% ivory (by volume) and made before 1947.
- Musical instruments made before 1975 and comprised of less than 20% ivory.
- Rare or important items, at least 100 years old, will be assessed by specialist institutions before exemption permits are issued.
- There will be specific exemptions for portrait miniatures painted on thin ivory bases and for commercial activity between accredited museums
- Update: November 2017 - CITES Policy Meeting
During the week of November 27, NAMM in conjunction with the League of American Orchestras, represented the music products industry concerns at a policy meeting (standing committee) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva, Switzerland. The group of global governmental participants and private sector stakeholders met for a week of discussions on agenda items that included the interpretation of current rules related to wood species used in musical instruments and to set the stage for longer-term revisions to be proposed at the next Conference of the Parties (May 2019).
The agenda for the stakeholder group included crafting policy requests and discussion related to dalbergia and recommendations to Annotation 15; and the Musical Instrument Certificate; the Frequent Cross-Border Non-Commercial Movements of Musical Instruments, which was adopted at the CoP 2017. Once at the meeting, the participants held a special event which addressed opportunities to meet urgent conservation needs while protecting travel and trade with musical instruments. Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the European Union management authority, World Wildlife Fund, and World Resources Institute provided remarks at the music event while expressing optimism about finding solutions to the new barriers to travel and trade.
Of the gathering, Heather Noonan, vice president of advocacy for the League of American Orchestras shared “We repeatedly heard CITES parties and non-governmental organizations agree that the terms of the dalbergia listing need to be changed. Conversations in the months ahead will lay the foundation for crafting a solution that prevents threats to the species while also relieving the music community of unnecessary and costly restrictions.”
The most urgent concerns addressed by CITES authorities involved interpreting the terms for current exemptions from the permit requirements of the new Appendix II listing of non-Brazilian rosewood (dalbergia) species. The CITES governing organizations are set to issue a new set of interpretive guidance soon to harmonize implementation across countries.
The next steps to expand the scope of exemptions from dalbergia permit requirements will occur at the CITES Conference of the Parties in 2019. Here, the 183 treaty members will review recommendations from the participating management authorities.
NAMM Members attending the 2018 NAMM Show can be a part of this developing conversation at our Import/Export Policy CITES Forum, Thursday, January 25, 2018, 10 - 11am in the NAMM Member Center, Anaheim Convention Center Hall B Lobby. Industry experts Jim Goldberg, Goldberg & Associates; Heather Noonan, American League of Orchestras; and Linda Davis-Wallen, C.F. Martin & Co., Inc, will discuss the current status of the CITES listing of all rosewood species and its impact on international instrument trade.
Since the January 2, 2017 implementation of dalbergia as an Appendix II species, NAMM has been partnering with other music stakeholders to seek clarity from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and international management authorities on the scope of eligible activities under the listing’s exemption for non-commercial activity. To read the international music industry’s statement of principles issued in September of 2017, and to receive ongoing CITES policy updates, please visit this site often.
- Update: October 2017 - CITES Considers Revising Rosewood Rules
Update, October 2017
CITES Considers Revising Rosewood Rules
Source: The Music Trades Online, October 2017
CITES Considers Revising Rosewood Rules that were hastily implemented in January of this year. Approximately 25 instrument makers, including representatives from Martin and Taylor Guitars, and Madinter, a leading supplier of tonewoods, were present. Scott Paul, director of natural resource sustainability at Taylor Guitars, said the committee was surprised by the unusually large turnout and “gave us a very sympathetic hearing.”
The CITES regulations in question placed all 200-plus species of Dalbergia, commonly known as rosewood, on “Appendix II” status, requiring manufacturers to secure import and export licenses for all products containing rosewood. For guitar and wind instrument makers, the new rules effectively brought trade to a halt as countries around the world scrambled to develop the appropriate forms and procedures for complying with the new rules. As a result, in the first quarter of 2017, U.S. electric guitar imports plummeted by 25% and acoustic guitar imports were off 31%.
The CITES Plant Committee cannot alter the text of the rosewood regulations. That can only be done by the CITES Committee of Parties (COP) which will next meet in 2019. What the Plant Committee can do is suggest alternative interpretations of the text. Given that even the Committee conceded that the rules were poorly written and full of ambiguous language, “alternative interpretations” hold the promise of easing some of the compliance burdens.
The good news emerging from the meeting was that the 500 scientists, environmental organization representatives, and interested observers in attendance seemed to agree that there were opportunities to scale back some of the burdensome reporting requirements on manufacturers that use rosewood, including guitar and wind instrument companies, without sacrificing the goal of preserving the world’s rosewood forests. The bad news was that the Plant Committee can only make recommendations; any actual changes to the CITES rules have to wait for the full meeting of the “Conference of Parties,” set for some time in 2019 in Sri Lanka.
The original regulations permitted “non-commercial exports of a maximum weight of 10 kilograms (22 lbs.) per shipment” to pass borders without import/export licenses. The Committee suggested interpreting the weight requirement to apply only to the rosewood content of the shipment, not the total weight. In the case of consolidated shipments, such as when orchestras tour and consolidate all their instruments into a single container, the 10 kg threshold is applied to each instrument, not the entire shipment. The Committee is also recommending that shipments for warranty and repair be free from licensing requirements.
The CITES rosewood regulations mandated that manufacturers fully document the chain of custody of a piece of rosewood from the time it was cut until it lands at the loading dock, and to secure licenses to verify the legality of the rosewood used in each finished product slated for export. The music industry has requested to have the finished goods licensing requirement eliminated, arguing that in addition to requiring time-consuming paperwork, it is unnecessary. If the legality of the rosewood entering a factory is verified, why does the process have to be repeated for thousands of individual finished goods? This proposal was initially dismissed but has since gained support and will be presented at the upcoming Conference of Parties gathering. The Plant Committee also discussed the possibility of removing Indian rosewood from the reporting requirements, because it is widely cultivated at tea plantations to provide shade for the tea plants, and cutting is strictly regulated. As one participant noted, “Rosewood in India doesn’t even come close to needing Appendix II protection.”
The CITES rosewood regulations were drafted to slow the trade in rosewood furniture, primarily for the Chinese market, that was leading to indiscriminate logging of rosewood forests. The authors of the regulations acknowledge that they never even considered the impact the rules would have on the musical instrument industry, and according to Paul, “seem open to our suggestions.” However, he cautions that given the politics of the organization and the nuance of drafting rules, “positive changes are not guaranteed.”
Environmental enforcement agencies around the world, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are emerging as an unlikely ally in rewriting the rosewood rules. Several agency representatives at the meeting complained that generating export licenses for musical instruments was consuming a disproportionate amount of time, diverting personnel from far more pressing issues.
- Update: October 2017 - UK Proposes Exemption - Ivory Ban
Updated Oct. 10, 2017.
Musical instruments will fall into the exemptions as set out in the UK’s proposals for an Ivory ban. Source: Music Industries Association, Newsletter Oct. 2017.
The Musicians’ Union, Music Industries Association and the Association of British Orchestras are delighted to see that musical instruments will fall into the exemptions as set out in the Government’s proposals for an Ivory ban. In most cases musical instruments with Ivory date back many many years. Some instruments made before 1947 may contain very small amounts of Ivory and since 1989 the use of Ivory in instrument manufacture has ceased. We support the ban with the welcome inclusion of a musical instrument exemption. Without this exemption these highly valuable and unique musical instruments, beautifully crafted to produce the best possible sound, would become devalued overnight.
We are fully supportive of including a definition of ‘musical instrument’ that prevents creating a loophole in the law, based on ensuring that its primary purpose is being played in a live performance along with de minimis thresholds relating to the quantity of ivory it contains.
Paul McManus, Chief Executive of the Music Industries Association said:
‘The musical instrument industry totally supports the aims of the government with the proposed ban on the ivory trade. It is equally delighted with the proposed exemption for musical instruments. There are many, many older instruments in the UK with decorative ivory features and it would be a tragedy for our music shops, their customers and music lovers everywhere if these beautiful products were prevented from being played and bringing joy to both the musicians and the general public. We look forward to working with the Government on this sensible and pragmatic exemption.’
Dave Webster, Live Performance Organiser for the Musicians’ Union says:
‘Instruments are, for many musicians, their pension fund and often the most significant investment a musician can make in their lifetime. We welcome the ban, of course we want to see the end of Elephant poaching for good but we do also need to build in vital protections for musicians and their instruments.’
Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras says:
‘We fully support the Government’s proposals for an exemption for musical instruments. Many musical instruments owned by orchestras and their musicians pre-date 1947, especially in the field of period instrument performance. We look forward to working with the Government on ensuring that the ban on the ivory trade doesn’t prevent our world-class ensembles from taking the best of British music-making across the globe’
To ensure an exemption is in place is key and we are working closely with the Government and International Federation of Animal Welfare (IFAW) to achieve that.
To see the full consultation document and the impact assessment, click here.
- Clarification: September 2017 - UPS Shipments with Rosewood to U.S.
Updated, September, 28, 2017
Effective immediately, UPS is resuming shipping of rosewood-only manufactured items (e.g., furniture, musical instruments, car interiors) destined for import into the United States. UPS was able to reinstate service after collaborating with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to develop a process to clear these shipments at Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky.
These shipments are accepted only if the shipper provides a validated (signed) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) permit for export from the shipper’s origin country.
For more information, contact:
International Account Manager, UPS
Mid-South District, Nashville, TN
Updated, September 13, 2017
If a shipment is moving under a CITES Permit which has been properly signed and validated prior to export, and it contains a combination of both FWS-type commodities (example, Mother of Pearl) AND rosewood or other wood products that require a CITES permit, then the shipment will be cleared in the US by FWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife). These shipments are not restricted and can be shipped via UPS.
U.S. NAMM members that import rosewood only as part of manufacturing, assembling or fabricating of instruments should refer to the following links:
- Questions and Answers: Recent Changes to CITES Rosewood Protections
- Shipments containing rosewood only must be imported and cleared through a port designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
UPS Customs & Trade Compliance Mgr.
UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. FMC# 000275F
UPS Ocean Freight Services, Inc. FMC# 016871N
UPS Europe SPRL, UPS Asia Group Pte. Ltd.
1930 Bishop Lane, Suite 600, Louisville, KY 40218, USA
(502) 485-2125 Direct Phone
(502) 374-1768 Fax
- Update: September 2016 - Action on Rosewood has Broad Implications
Action protecting more than 250 species of rosewood (dalbergia) taken at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will have broad implications on the international shipments of musical instruments containing the wood, including guitars, marimbas and various types of woodwinds.
The CITES delegates at the September 2016 Conference of the Parties in South Africa elected to expand the protection afforded to rosewood by placing some 250 species on Appendix II. Only Brazilian rosewood, currently protected under a stricter Appendix I listing is excluded. Although approximately 50 species had previously been listed on Appendix II, the expanded listing comes with an annotation which makes the protection applicable to not only logs and sawn wood, but also what's called "all parts and derivatives," which means finished products like musical instruments.
The expanded listing, which will take effect in early January, 2017 (specific date to be determined), is applicable worldwide and will require all manufacturers and retailers of musical instruments containing one or more rosewood species (excluding Brazilian rosewood) to obtain a permit from the appropriate government regulatory agency (in the United States, it is the Fish and Wildlife Service) if they wish to export one or more instruments outside of the country. Domestic shipments will not require a permit.
There will undoubtedly be some compliance challenges as the new permit requirement is implemented, particularly with regard to the lead time necessary to obtain a permit prior to an international shipments and the information which must be furnished in the application process. At the present time, one-time shipping permits carry a $100 fee, although frequent international shippers can obtain a three-year master file permit for $200 and individual shipment permits (valid for six months) at $5 each.
The rosewood listing does include some minor exemptions, including (a) non-commercial shipments (e.g.,, international travel by musicians) with a total weight of 10 kg or less, (b) parts and derivatives of Siamese (aka Thai) rosewood, and (c) all products originating and exported from Mexico.
NAMM plans further activities to keep members informed of the new requirements. An educational session will be scheduled at the NAMM Show in Anaheim in January, 2017 and, if necessary, an informational webinar will be scheduled before then. In the meantime, NAMM government affairs representatives will be meeting with FWS officials to determine the most efficient means of compliance.
- Resource: CITES Travel Tips from the League of American Orchestras
Before embarking on the permit process for traveling with individual instruments, it's critical to understand as much as possible about the rules and limitations that apply to travel with permits. For tips, best practices, charts, templates, forms, and a lot more, link here
- Update: November 2016 - Import/Export Regulations to Take Effect January 2, 2017
November 2016 Update: Commercial Rosewood and Bubinga Import/Export Regulations to Take Effect January 2, 2017
Note: U.S. domestic shipments will NOT require permits. Guidelines outlined for rosewood, bubingas and kosso import/export and use of in-stock wood.
Action protecting more than 250 species of rosewood (dalbergia), three species of bubinga (guibourtia) and kosso (Pterocarpus erinaceus) taken at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will have broad implications on the international shipments of musical instruments containing these woods including guitars, marimbas and various types of woodwinds.
The CITES delegates at the September 2016 Conference of the Parties in South Africa elected to expand the protection afforded to these tonewoods by placing select species of bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii,) kosso (Pterocarpus erinaceus) and 250 rosewood species on Appendix II. Only Brazilian rosewood, currently protected under a stricter Appendix I listing is excluded. The expanded listing comes with an annotation which makes the protection applicable to not only logs and sawn wood, but also what's called "all parts and derivatives," which means finished products like musical instruments.
The expanded listing, which will take effect on January 2, 2017 is applicable worldwide and will require all manufacturers and retailers of musical instruments containing one or more the aforementioned species (excluding Brazilian rosewood) to obtain a permit from the appropriate government regulatory agency (in the United States, it is the Fish and Wildlife Service) if they wish to export one or more instruments outside of the country. Domestic shipments will not require a permit.
- Resource: International Music Industry’s Statement of Principles: Musical Instruments, Rosewoods and Bubinga
September 2017: The music industry and those that supply wood product inputs to music instrument manufacturers strongly support efforts to conserve rosewood and bubinga as well as further study of their biology, conservation, and trade.
Statement of Principles: Musical Instruments and Appendix II Annotation 15
Annotation #15 pertaining to Dalbergia spp., Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii (bubinga) provides that the rosewood and bubinga Appendix II listings cover:
All parts and derivatives are included, except:
a) Leaves, flowers, pollen, fruits, and seeds;
b) Non-commercial exports of a maximum total weight of 10 kg per shipment;
c) Parts and derivatives of Dalbergia cochinchinensis, which are covered by Annotation #4; and d) Parts and derivatives of Dalbergia spp. originating and exported from Mexico, which are covered by Annotation #6.
Musical Instruments, Rosewoods and Bubinga
The music industry and those that supply wood product inputs to music instrument manufacturers strongly support efforts to conserve rosewood and bubinga as well as further study of their biology, conservation, and trade. Protecting these trees is a priority.
The making of musical instruments requires very limited quantities of rosewood and bubinga. For example, guitars, violins, violas, double basses, clarinets, piccolos, oboes, flutes, xylophones, and pianos that contain rosewood or bubinga typically contain less than 10kg of the material. Marimbas and a small minority of pianos may contain larger quantities of the wood, but will usually not exceed 30kg per instrument. Instrument makers, retailers, and musicians rely on the trade in instruments for their livelihoods and to produce art that uplifts the human experience. In aggregate, these instruments represent an extremely small proportion of the worldwide trade in rosewoods and bubinga.
Increases in the cost of materials can greatly erode marginal profitability and threaten the livelihoods of instrument makers and related businesses (e.g., violin peg makers). For traveling musicians, and particularly for orchestras and ensembles, the non-commercial exemption in Annotation 15 is incomplete and unclear.
The absence of a clear and complete exemption for the movement of musical instruments as finished products presents a significant impact on the trade, hinders international cultural activity, and unnecessarily burdens CITES management authorities. If the Parties do not replace or correct the Annotation 15, the world of music and culture will lose certain instruments that produce the highest quality tones, with no corresponding conservation benefit.
Essential Elements of any Annotation for Rosewoods and Bubinga
- Whether or not the annotation specifies musical instruments, in effect all trade in musical instruments should be exempted from CITES permitting requirements. This should include:
- Commercial shipments of finished musical instruments or instrument parts that will be incorporated into instruments without substantial modification
- Non-commercial transportation of finished musical instruments
- Musical instruments carried as personal effects and shipped as cargo
- To the extent the existing Annotation 15 remains:
- Delete the term “non-commercial”
- Clarify its other terms of reference related to non-commercial activity, consolidated shipments, weight limits, and identification and marking requirements, as discussed at the 23rd meeting of the Plants Committee.
- Accommodate all musical instruments
- Ensure consistency with current practices in customs, shipping, documentation, and declarations procedures.
- International Resources
- Updated CITES information for MI companies in the UK can be found here.
- CITES guidelines for MI companies in EU in German (including Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria) have been prepared by SOMM, GDM and BDMH and are available, here.
- List of names and addresses of institutions responsible for implementation in EU countries can be found here.
- Q&A on the implementation in the EU of the listing of Rosewood and Palisander species into CITES appendix II: Clarifications regarding questions asked by CITES authorities can be found here.
- International updates are also available at the following websites:
- List of CITES Management Authorities by Country
- U.S. Resources
- November 2016 Letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to U.S. timber importers and re-exporters.
- U.S. Companies with questions about this new listing, please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Management Authority at:
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife PPT presentation concerning commercial import/export requirements
- For specific questions about the designated U.S. ports for CITES-listed plants import, or other enforcement matters related to the CITES listings of Dalbergia and Guibourtia, please contact: Mr. John Veremis with APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine at:
- Resource: U.S. FWS and APHIS Reach Agreement on CITES Import/Exports
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has reached an agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for FWS to take over validation of CITES documents and inspect and clear imports and exports of musical instruments and other imports which contain both CITES-listed non-living plant species and any wildlife species (regardless of whether they are CITES listed or not).
The agreement, which had been urged by NAMM and other music industry organizations for more than a year, has the effect of streamlining the import and export of instruments containing both listed plants and wildlife species. The items still have to enter or leave the U.S. through ports designated by either APHIS or FWS. Prior to the agreement, the ports were limited to those which appeared on both the APHIS and FWS lists.
FWS' notice to the trade can be found here.
- Resource: NAMM Forum Audio Recordings
Policy Forum, Import/Export, CITES Regulations: Audio Recording
Policy forum with special focus on recent CITES regulations of all species of rosewood implemented Jan. 2, 2017. Moderator: Mary Luehrsen, Director of NAMM Public Affairs and Government Relations. Panelists: Jim Goldberg, Goldberg, Goldberg Associates; Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, League of American Orchestras.
Policy Roundtable, Import/Export, CITES Compliance Q&A: Audio Recording
Jim Goldberg of Goldberg and Associates, League of American Orchestras vice president of advocacy Heather Noonan and Taylor Guitars legal counsel Ethna Piazza address NAMM member questions about CITES compliance and explain significant changes to international trade in instruments containing all species of rosewood.