What You Need To Know About The New CITES Regulations

What You Need To Know About The New CITES Regulations

A new rule to regulate the international trade in rosewood has far reaching consequences for all guitar owners. We’ll try to explain what has happened, how it effects you and what we are doing to ensure you have the reassurance that all Avalon’s are fully compliant with the new legislation. Read on …

As of 2 January 2017, all species of Rosewood have been placed on the CITES Appendix II (2) schedule.

This means that all international trade in any kind of rosewood including the acquisition of tonewood for making musical instruments as well as the buying and selling of guitars across international borders, will now be monitored to ensure that only legal and sustainably harvested timbers are used.
Although the new regulations came into force in January, many governments around the world, including those in the EU and critically the countries where rosewood is sourced, were not ready with the appropriate legislation on 2 January, but this will rapidly change as the legislatures adopt the new regulations into their laws. The EU eventually set the date of application of the annexes at 4 February 2017 when the regulations came into EU law although some aspects have yet to be clarified, particularly with regard to the movement of musicians with their instruments.

This is what we know so far:

1. All rosewoods (of which there are approximately 300 species) are now classified on the CITES Appendix II (2) watchlist.
2. The legislation will require a certificate of export (and a corresponding certificate of import) when rosewood timber or any product containing any element of rosewood, is bought and sold across international boundaries.
3. Musicians travelling with guitars for their own personal use containing any element of rosewood, can continue to travel freely with their instrument across borders – so long as your guitar(s) contain(s) less than 10Kg (22 pounds) of rosewood and you have a Musical Instrument Certificate for the specific instrument(s) you are carrying. For example, in the UK the certificate (known as FED0172) can be obtained from the UK CITES Management Authority and is valid for three years. Confusingly, this is the same document used for the import, export or re–export of a guitar, so don’t expect the form to be specifically named ‘Musical Instrument Certificate’. Similar Certificates are available in almost all jurisdictions – just check with your local CITES Management Authority. 

4. It is worth bearing in mind that the new legislation relates only to the trade in rosewood after 2 January 2017. Any timbers or indeed guitars produced using those timbers that were acquired prior to this date are completely exempt from the regulations, but you will need to provide proof that your guitar was obtained prior to this date. For example, your Avalon warranty certificate is dated and this alone will provide the proof you need. For the time being, for every guitar we release after 2 January 2017, we will add a statement to our warranty certificates that the wood used in the manufacture of the guitar was acquired prior to 2 January 2017 and eventually, when we begin using rosewoods that fall under the remit of the new legislation, we will provide the relevant permits with every guitar we produce as necessary.

For more detailed information and specific information in your country, please visit the relevant website of the management authority for your jurisdiction. Here is a full list of all the national CITES Management Authorities: https://cites.org/eng/cms/index.php/component/cp

Our Response:
1. This all may sound like a lot of grief for hard–working musicians and law–abiding citizens but CITES and the various national management authorities should not be the focus of our frustration but rather the nefarious illegal loggers who have made these regulations necessary. We at Avalon congratulate CITES for bringing all rosewoods under the remit and protection of the Convention and we are happy to give you the assurance that we have sourced all our raw materials from responsible, sustainably harvested sources and will continue to do so.
2. Is worth mentioning that this regulation applies to pretty much every guitar we produce and not just those with rosewood back and sides. It is usually the case that rosewood components are used throughout the guitar – bindings, puflings, rosette rings, headstock facings, neck laminates and the internal bridge plates are all produced using Indian Rosewood therefore, it is wise to err on the side of caution by applying for a permit when it is a necessary requirement to do so.
3. So when is it necessary? If you have an Avalon Guitar and you enjoy playing it within your own national borders (or within European Union) then you need do nothing – keep enjoying playing your Avalon guitar as you will not need any documentation for simply owning a guitar which contains rosewood.
If you want to sell your guitar or indeed buy another one within your national borders, here again you do not need any kind of permit or documentation for that transaction although the buyer may want proof of the guitars compliance with the legislation, such as the original warranty certificate.
If you occasionally travel outside your national borders with your guitar then you would be advised to apply for and obtain a Musical Instrument Certificate (see above) – these can be obtained from your local CITES Management Authority and can be renewed every three years.
A permit is absolutely required if you buy or sell a guitar containing rosewood across any international border, except for EU member states which for the purpose of these regulations are regarded as a single entity. What happens to the UK after Brexit remains to be seen!
So for example, if you’re in the US and you want to buy a guitar from another country the seller will need to provide an export permit and you will need to apply to the Fish & Wildlife Service for an import permit.
If you want to sell a guitar containing rosewood you will need to apply for a re–export permit and the recipient (the buyer) will apply for an import permit in their jurisdiction.
Finally …
This all seems a bit of a rigmarole but let’s remember that the overriding aim of the Convention is the precautionary principle whereby trade in specimens of a species may only take place when the latter has proved to be “harmless” to preserve the species.
In effect you are applying for the guitars birth certificate to verify that the timbers have been sourced from genuine legal sources and by doing so, you are helping to preserve the species from extinction.
We will continue to monitor information from the various CITES Management Authorities and trade channels and report any developments – no doubt more clarification will be forthcoming over the next few weeks and months.

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