Suppliers say ban on Burmese teak could be hard to enforce

An EU ban on Burmese teak could prove difficult to enforce, furniture suppliers have suggested.

The ban, which came into force last month, is set to become British law, meaning trade of Burmese teak will become illegal.

China and India have taken over the market since the Burmese uprising against military rule in September 2007, Bristol-based Britannic Garden Furniture owner Roger Potter explained.

He said he believes some Chinese operators may be exporting Burmese timber and branding it as Chinese. "They're saying it is not Burmese teak and saying it is Chinese or Indian. I can't prove it is and customs officers at Avonmouth can't tell the difference either."

Britannic Garden Furniture was targeted by Burma Campaign UK last year for importing Burmese teak. The campaign's UK director Anna Roberts said: "A lot of teak does come from third-party countries such as China so it's more than likely Burmese teak is coming to the UK from China. It's up to buyers to ensure they use proper procedures. They shouldn't import from Burma because it will be illegal and, from an ethical point of view, teak is one of the key exports that props up Burma's military regime."

Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association secretary Richard Plowman said: "The difficulty with Burmese teak is that if it's from just over the border, how do you distinguish where it is from?"

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