CITES Policy Updates: Regulatory Compliance and Advocacy
CITES The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES, is an international agreement between governments. The agreement is an established, international conservation effort aimed at reducing and eliminating the trade of endangered wild animals and plants. NAMM offers resources that identify changes to the CITES Appendices and other outcomes that would have the greatest impact on the Music Products Industry. Please check here often for updates and new resources.
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 email@example.com or contact NAMM’s counsel, Jim Goldberg of Goldberg & Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background and Resources:
- CITES Forum at The 2018 NAMM Show
Import/Export Policy Forum: CITES
Thursday, January 25, 2018
10 - 11 am
Anaheim Convention Center, NAMM Member Center, Hall B Lobby
Speakers: Jim Goldberg, founder, Goldberg & Associates; Heather Noonan, executive director, American League of Orchestras; and Linda Davis-Wallen, wood sourcing specialist, C.F. Martin & Co., Inc.
Industry experts discuss the current status of the CITES listing of all rosewood (dalbergia) species and its impact on international instrument trade, with emphasis on actions of the CITES organization in the last six months and industry plans for the 2019 Conference of the Parties, where additional action could be taken. Presented by NAMM Public Affairs and Government Relations.
- 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.
- UK Proposes Exemption for Musical Instruments in 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 Re: 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
- 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.
- CITES Protected Species 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
- Commercial Rosewood and Bubinga 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.
- 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
- NAMM Show CITES Sessions
July 2017, Summer NAMM:
- Policy Roundtable: CITES Update.
Mary Luehrsen, Director of NAMM Public Affairs and Government Relations and three industry import/export experts- Chris Martin, C.F. Martin & Co.; Charlie Redden, Taylor Guitars; and Christie Carter, Carter Vintage Guitars- presented an informal roundtable discussion covering compliance updates and best practices regarding international trade in instruments containing all species of rosewood. Listen to the audio recordings here: Issue Summary and Panel Introduction / Panel Discussion
January 2017, The NAMM Show:
- Policy Forum: Import/Export, CITES Regulations.
Policy forum with a 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. Listen to the audio file.
- Policy Roundtable: Import/Export, CITES Compliance Q&A.
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. Listen to the audio file.
- Policy Roundtable: CITES Update.
- New Rosewood Proposals Slated for CITES Conference
Several issues of interest to the music industry will be on the agenda for the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which begins September 24 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through a partnership with the League of American Orchestras, NAMM will be monitoring developments on these issues.
During the Conference, delegates from more than 180 countries will consider a proposal to streamline current requirements for travelling internationally with musical instruments that contain protected species materials, and other policies that impact musicians whose instruments contain rosewood, ivory, and other material that is subject to the terms of the treaty. The League of American Orchestras partners with NAMM, the American Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers, and other national and international music organizations on these issues, and with support from NAMM will host an event open to all CITES delegates to discuss CITES policy solutions that balance urgent conservation needs with ongoing international cultural activity.
Included on the agenda are discussions to further restrict the sales of products containing elephant ivory, adding dozens of additional rosewood (dalbergia) species to the treaty's Appendix II and streamlining the rules for international travel with musical instruments, which were initially discussed at the last CoP when the concept of a musical instrument passport was approved.
The rosewood proposal presents the most significant challenge for the music products industry. Adding species to Appendix II would require imports and exports of instruments containing rosewood to be accompanied by permits issued by the exporting country. Currently, the 50-plus rosewood species listed on Appendix II are annotated with an exemption for finished products. NAMM will continue to advocate for such an exemption if all rosewood species are added to Appendix II.
NAMM will also be closely watching the elephant ivory discussion in order to preserve the exemption for most musical instruments contained in rules issued in June by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pertaining to domestic interstate transactions.
- 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:
- 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.