22 February 2013

Mozambique: Prosecutors to Investigate Smuggling of Timber

Maputo — The Attorney-General's Office is investigating the smuggling of timber from Mozambique to China, and the possible involvement of senior figures in the government and the ruling Frelimo Party in this illicit trade, according to a report in the independent weekly Savana.

The smuggling was denounced by a British-based NGO, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which looked at the figures from both the Mozambican and Chinese ends of the trade and spotted enormous discrepancies. The imports of Mozambican timber declared in China massively exceed the exports declared in Mozambique.

According to the EIA report, in 2012 China recorded imports of wood (logs and sawn wood) of 450,000 cubic metres. Yet for the same year Mozambique recorded exports of wood of 260,385 cubic metres, not merely to China but to the entire world.

When the Chinese figures are broken down, 323,000 cubic metres of the wood imports from Mozambique are logs. The total exports of logs in the Mozambican records are just 41,543 cubic metres.

Discrepancies on this scale cannot be dismissed as mathematical or accounting mistakes. They indicate that hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of wood were exported illegally to China in 2012, mostly in the form of unprocessed logs.

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