Re: International guitar deals are about to get much more complicated
New Rosewood Trade Restrictions Challenge Industry
THE CONVENTION on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has issued tough new restrictions on the import and export of all 300 species of Dalbergia, a wood widely used in guitar construction, better known by its common name, rosewood. Set to be formalized early in 2017, the new rules require guitar makers to document where, when, and how imported rosewood logs and boards were procured, and to provide similar documentation to secure export permits for finished rosewood guitars.
Widespread concern that the tropical hardwood was being harvested to the point of extinction, primarily to supply a burgeoning Chinese furniture industry, prompted CITES to take action. The officials placed regulations on all rosewood species, because unscrupulous loggers had exploited the fact that rosewood species are difficult to differentiate, passing off illegally cut wood as a previously unprotected species.
CITES restrictions on woods are nothing new for the guitar industry. Since 1992, Brazilian rosewood has been listed under the CITES "appendix 1," which bans all global trade. Guitar makers who build and export instruments with Brazilian rosewood are required to document that the wood was cut prior to the 1992 ban. Big leaf mahogany, another wood widely used in guitar construction, is listed under the less restrictive CITES 2 appendix, which requires guitar makers to document that the imported logs and boards were procured according to global regulations, but does not require documentation for finished guitars.
What makes the new rosewood regulations challenging is the documentation on finished instruments. Better than half of all acoustic guitars traversing national borders--millions of units annually--now must be accompanied by paperwork that details the quantity of rosewood used, measured in cubic meters, and the complete chain of custody of the wood, from the time the log was cut until it left the production line.
Actual enforcement of CITES rules is left up to individual countries, and in the U.S., the Department of Fish and Wildlife is charged with implementing them. Colesanti has been meeting with Fish and Wildlife representatives in what he says is a "collaborative, problem solving" atmosphere. He's hoping that they can arrive at rules that protect rosewood forests without overburdening guitar makers. "It's a long process," he says.