To sell your wood (products) on the European market, you need to comply with European market access requirements. These requirements can vary from Europe-wide legislation to common buyer preferences.

Legal requirements

The most important European legislation you must comply with is the EU Timber Regulation. Illegal logging has severe economic, environmental and social impacts for some of the world’s most valuable remaining forests and the communities that rely on them. The EUTR prohibits the placing of illegally logged timber and derived products on the European market.

The easiest way to prove compliance with the EUTR is through a voluntary legality verification system, or regular sustainable forest management certification (from the FSC). In addition, Ghana is currently implementing its Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU to obtain FLEGT licensing. This is a promising development, as products with a FLEGT or CITES license automatically comply with the Timber Regulation.

For timber construction products, the Construction Products Regulation requires CE-marking to show compliance with harmonised requirements regarding mechanical resistance, stability, fire safety, hygiene, health and the environment. Component suppliers have to provide their European buyer with information on the basic properties of their product.

The REACH regulation restricts the use of certain chemicals in products that are marketed in Europe. For wood, this includes for example arsenic and chromated copper compounds, cadmium, creosotes, lead and mercury.

Another important requirement is the EU General Product Safety Directive. This legislation applies to all consumer products and states that all products marketed in Europe must be safe to use.

Europe also has general legislation on packaging (waste), as well as requirements for wood packaging materials used for transport. These requirements apply to packaging materials like cases, boxes, crates, drums, (box) pallets and dunnage. Ghana’s Plant Protection & Regulatory Services can provide you with the contact details of licensed producers.

Additional requirements

In addition to legislation, European buyers often have non-legal requirements. Especially regarding sustainability and social responsibility. Meeting these additional requirements isn’t mandatory, but can increase your chances on the market considerably. A common additional requirement is sustainable forest management. Sustainable wooden products are especially popular in Northern and Western European markets. The most widely used scheme for certification of tropical timber forests is FSC.

To address social and environmental issues, European companies increasingly require Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies. These generally include health and safety, business ethics and social responsibility requirements. Your buyer may require you to comply with their company’s CSR-policy, or adhere to common industry codes like BSCI or SA8000.

Niche market requirements

If you can produce eco and/or Fair Trade products these European niche markets may provide interesting opportunities. There are EU Eco-Labels for floor coverings and furniture. For Fair Trade products you need to establish fair, reliable and predictable contract arrangements along the entire supply chain and obtain certification, like FLO.

Want to know more?

Would you like to know more about European market access requirements for wood (products)? You can read all about them in CBI’s

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