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Most rural livelihoods in developing countries depend to a large extent on the use and sometimes the trade of biodiversity-related products (Bennett and Robinson, 2000). While the commercial trade in wild plants and animals is mostly domestic, for certain such species and products, including non-wood forest products (NWFP), a significant segment of products traded are ultimately destined for foreign markets and the general direction of trade flows is from developing to developed countries (Burgener, 2003)

The past thirty years have witnessed a significant growth in domestic and international trade in practically all products, including NWFP. This growth has had accompanying implications, both positive and negative, for the species concerned as well as the numerous individuals operating within the commodity chains of these NWFP. Accordingly, various instruments have been developed and implemented in attempts to regulate the trade, normally with the intention of ensuring sustainable trade and/or the equitable distribution of the benefits of such trade. These instruments range from multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to regional trade and other agreements to national level controls and to voluntary instruments such as eco-labeling and certification schemes. There are also many trade-related instruments whose primary focus has not been on NWFP and those involved in their harvest and trade, but which have impacted on this trade.

An FAO study in 19933 provided an overview of the international trade in non-wood forest products. This was followed in 19544 by a report focusing on trade restrictions affecting the international trade in NWFP.

In 2001, the Government of Japan and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in close cooperation with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), implemented a research and analysis project entitled "Impact Assessment of Forest Products Trade in the Promotion of Sustainable Forest Management". This project undertook a broad analysis of the impact and interactions between trade in forest products and services and forest management. The project aimed to provide information, analysis and a platform for informal debate in order to assist governmental institutions, international organizations, the private sector and civil society groups such as NGOs in the elaboration of trade policies that encourage sustainable forest management (Anon., 2005a). The project incorporated some analysis of trade-related instruments, in particular trade restrictions on forest-based goods and services. The focus was, however, very much on forests and timber and did not cover NWFP trade in any detail.

This analysis accordingly follows on from and expands upon trade-related instruments that impact on the trade in NWFP, with an emphasis on those instruments that promote the contribution of trade to the sustainable use of forest products and/or to people’s livelihoods.

While analysis of the domestic trade in NWFP has not been completely excluded from this analysis, the emphasis is on the international trade in NWFP.

3 Iqbal, M. (1993). International trade in non-wood forest products: an overview. FO: Misc/93/11 Working Paper. FAO. Rome, Italy
4 Iqbal, M. (1995). Trade restrictions affecting international trade in non-wood forest products. FAO. Rome, Italy

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