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One measure already enforced in the UK is the UK Timber Regulation which imposes legality due diligence requirements on all timber products placed on the UK market, including from the EU, and which replaces the EUTR. 

Importing timber from the EU has been made more difficult as European companies unwilling or unable to share details of supply chains to help members complete the necessary due diligence has become a growing problem.

Furthermore, each shipment must go through double due diligence. Stock going into the EU undergoes due diligence and then when it has been purchased by a UK trader, due diligence on the same product has to be undertaken again.

“Due diligence works for bulk supplies from regular customers outside the EU. But when topping up from the EU, there could be several supply chains involved in one shipment. Every chain has to be risk assessed despite already being risk assessed to enter the EU. Suppliers do not want to risk revealing their supply chains for smaller (but essential) occasional orders,” said one importer.

Some UK importers said that European suppliers do not understand why they have to prove due diligence when the product is certified or when from a low-risk region of the EU. Iit is hoped that over time our members’ European suppliers will accept the new due diligence requirements and share their supply chain information to lessen the blocking of trade.

In response to Brexit, Vandecasteele Houtimport, the large Belgian hardwood importer, has created a UK registered company to minimise post-Brexit administration and streamline service for customers. Vandecasteele Timber Ltd acts as operator under the UK Timber Regulation, handling all due diligence and other customs clearance procedures.

“We have set up the company basically to continue to service the UK market as before,” said export manager Geneviève Standaert. “It ensures for UK customers that nothing changes; all paperwork is from UK to UK, so there are no headaches for customs clearance, phytosanitary certificates, VAT prepayment and so on. Due diligence, in particular, can be a lot of work and a challenge for companies which may not have done it before. We take that work on on the UK customer’s behalf.”

Vandecasteele’s sales to the UK dropped sharply in the first two months of the pandemic but recovered rapidly from May. “Business has continued to grow since and today is really good,” said Ms Standaert.

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