Timber from Belarus still enters Lithuania and other EU countries, the study concluded

Timber from Belarus still enters Lithuania and other EU countries, the study concluded
Timber from Belarus still enters Lithuania and other EU countries, the study concluded
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In general, more than 120 million euros worth of timber reached the EU market from third countries via Poland, Stanislav Ivaškevičs, head of the Belarusian Research Center, told Lithuanian Public Radio on Tuesday. He explained that part of its imported timber also ends up in Lithuania.

As Ivaškevičs presented, timber from third countries is checked at the Polish border, but there is no further control of it in the EU, therefore timber imported by circumventing sanctions ends up in Lithuania, although the state enforces sanctions more effectively than other countries and blocks the import of suspicious timber.

However, the authors of the study admit that the export of timber from Belarus to the EU has significantly decreased – before the introduction of sanctions, it exceeded one billion euros.

Timber from Belarus is sent “through Kazakhstan” and is actually imported from Belarus with forged documents, as evidenced by the documents analyzed by the study’s authors, Ivashkevich said.

“A timber transporter from Belarus clearly told us over the phone that the timber comes from Belarus, not Kazakhstan. The carrier from Kazakhstan assured us that he [Baltkrievijas] the company is known to have contacted and signed a memorandum, but then the company disappeared and the business failed. We can imagine that all this company needed was a contractor from Kazakhstan to be able to put fake stamps everywhere,” Ivaškevich said.

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As he said, new ways to circumvent sanctions have also emerged, as it is no longer necessary to register companies that are exempt from value added tax (VAT), “now it is only necessary to complete the paperwork and it works on the Polish border.”

“There are not many forests in Kazakhstan. It is a large country, but its forests occupy only 4% of the territory. “Kazakhstan imports its own wood, and the 4-5% of forests it has are steppe trees, half of which are not particularly suitable for industrial wood processing,” Ivaškevich explained.

The study was conducted a year after a similar investigation in December 2022 found that timber from Belarus was being imported into the EU through Kyrgyzstan.

“When we found out that Belarusian timber can be supplied to the EU as timber from Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania blocked the import of timber from Kyrgyzstan. That was the end of the good news. We continue to observe a strong increase in the flow of timber to the European Union from Kazakhstan,” said Ivaškevich.

Lithuanian customs announced in November 2022 that they will start to control wood cargo more strictly. The institution openly stated that this is related to sanctions against Russia and Belarus.

The article is in Latvian

Tags: Timber Belarus enters Lithuania countries study concluded

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