There are a broad range of trade-related instruments that impact on the trade in NWFP. These instruments vary considerably in their approach, their overarching aim, their implementation and the extent to which they achieve their objective. Unlike the two key traded biodiversity resources, timber and marine products, NWFP are traded in comparatively much smaller quantities and are not as valuable, in monetary terms, even when considered as a single commodity grouping. Because of this, considerations on the impact of trade measures on NWFP, and associated livelihoods, are not placed as high on the agenda as they are for similar impacts related to timber and marine products. This can be seen in related debates and decisions within the WTO and regional trade and biodiversity agreements, in the provisions of national import and export control measures, and in the development of certification schemes.
It was perhaps only within CITES that we find a trade-related instrument that has the structure and mechanisms to deal with the complexities of NWFP trade. However, CITES only regulates a very small percentage of traded NWFP and this analysis demonstrates that the imposition of CITES trade controls does not necessarily result in a win-win situation for the species concerned and those generating an income from the trade.
NWFP also face practical challenges – there are, for instance, numerous different NWFP, far more than for timber or marine products and they are often small in size and come from many different sites – and they are, accordingly, far more complex and difficult to understand and regulate, as they can not be successfully regulated as a single or uniform commodity.
It is clear, however, that NWFP play a critical role in the lives of millions of people around the world and that trade-related instruments do have an impact, both positive and negative, on the sustainable use and conservation of NWFP and the livelihoods of those dependant on them. Resource users, regulators, non-governmental organizations, policy-makers and all other stakeholders accordingly need to continue emphasizing the important role of NWFP and advocating for the adoption of trade-related measures that are supportive of their conservation and sustainable use.
As the following more specific conclusions are brief, reference is made, at the end of each conclusion, to the sections in the report where the conclusion can be contextualised.
• Trade liberalization appears to benefit forest-export orientated developed countries more than developing countries. However those developing countries with considerable forest resources should benefit economically from trade liberalization (18.104.22.168).
• Trade liberalization can help improve forest governance and support movement towards sustainable forest management. Conversely, it can also have a negative impact by boosting illegal activities or expanding the economic harvesting area (22.214.171.124).
• Insufficient literature exists on the current and potential impact of regional trade agreements on the conservation and sustainable use of NWFP (126.96.36.199; 188.8.131.52; 184.108.40.206).
• The Bonn Guidelines on Access and Benefit Sharing are being incorporated into national policy and legislation and have the potential to support a more equitable distribution of benefits arising from the trade in certain NWFP (220.127.116.11).
• Regional agreements and initiatives (such as the SADC Forestry Protocol and the ASEAN Statement on CITES) dealing with biodiversity conservation appear to offer significant opportunities for the development of national-level trade-related measures that could benefit NWFP conservation and use (18.104.22.168; 22.214.171.124).
• In certain cases, where Phytosanitary certificates are required for export purposes, such measures become a trade constraint as they cause delays and are particularly onerous on small cooperatives and local communities. However, where related NWFP are destined for markets in developed countries, such certificates are necessary to ensure access to these markets, which generally have strict Phytosanitary standards that must be met (126.96.36.199).
• Excessive tax rates are counter-productive as they encourage illegal trade in the products to avoid the export tariff and reduce the price paid to collectors and harvesters (188.8.131.52).
• Non-tariff national level import controls can prove restrictive as well as complex and overlapping, resulting in confusion regarding their interpretation. This creates a burden on both enforcement personnel as well as traders and creates a regulatory environment that is open to exploitation (184.108.40.206).
• Certification and labeling schemes have focused mainly on timber products and certification of NWFP has only been available in forest-related certification schemes for the last half decade. It is accordingly very difficult to judge the performance of certification for NWFP due to the lack of case studies and available information (5.3.1).
• NWFP are probably not ideal for certification programmes as the products are often traded on a small scale in local markets and where they are traded internationally it is often for a specific industry and also on a relatively small scale. Accordingly only some of the more popular products are suitable for certification and it should be done on a case by case basis (5.3.1).
• Where products have not entered the intensive commodity market, there is minimal competition for the resource and little or no investment is required beyond time and effort. Certification programmes introduced to such areas run the risk of introducing the contradictions between market processes and subsistence uses of NWFP to the detriment of the latter. However, where NWFP have been heavily commoditised, market process may already jeopardize subsistence uses and appropriately designed certification programmes might be used to provide some protection for them (5.3.1).
• Bans on timber harvesting provide only a possible first step in ameliorating the present symptoms of forest management failures. Timber harvest restrictions and harvest bans alone seldom correct underlying problems of misuse, unsustainable forest management and conventional harvesting. Without an adequate framework of supporting conservation and protection policy and appropriate management capacity, the closing of forests that have been open for both traditional community use and commercial harvesting imposes inequities and hardships (6.2.1).