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CITES Update

Commercial Rosewood and Bubinga Import/Export Regulations

Effective November 26, 2019 there will be an CITES exemption for rosewood (except for Brazilian rosewood) and bubinga used on finished musical instruments, finished musical instrument parts and finished musical instrument accessories. This will make the exportation of musical instruments by individuals, manufacturers and musicians around the world significantly less difficult. Martin Guitar is proud to have played a prominent role in advocating CITES to implement this change. Positive changes were also made in the CITES listing of Spanish cedar and for CITES musical instrument certificates. 

The 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concluded on August 28th. Originally scheduled to be held in May in Sri Lanka, as a result of the terrorist attacks over Easter, CoP18 was delayed and moved to Geneva. The CoP is held every three years and provides an opportunity for the Parties (member nation states) to discuss and vote on proposals aimed at conserving animal and plant species while enabling trade. A core group, including Martin Guitar, representing the music industry, music associations and wood vendors to the music industry (the “music group”) attended CoP18, advocating on behalf of the music industry and musicians worldwide.

In 2016 the Parties listed Dalbergia spp. (rosewood genus – or family, with the exception of Dalbergia nigra – or Brazilian rosewood – which remains listed on Appendix I), and several Guibourtia (bubinga) species on Appendix II of CITES, triggering a permit requirement for international travel with any objects containing rosewood. The listing was accompanied by a limited set of exemptions contained in an “annotation”. The annotation, known as Annotation# 15, was unique, and many would argue poorly crafted, and had the effect of subjecting nearly all finished goods, including the commercial transport of musical instruments, to the CITES permitting regime. This substantially increased the permit burden for governmental authorities, wreaked havoc on the music industry and musicians making cross border transits with their instruments, and severely impacted the sale of musical instruments containing the listed species. In fact, even if only one instrument in a container shipment contained any amount of Dalbergia, the entire shipment had to be permitted.

Since the Dalbergia spp. listing, the music group has advocated for a change in Annotation# 15, meeting with a host of CITES management authorities, submitting information documents and written proposals, actively participating in CITES working groups, and attending the intersessional CITES Plants Committee and Standing Committee meetings. At CoP18, the music group held a side event luncheon where management authorities from Canada, the European Union and others participated in panel discussions.

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