EC, USA and Japan, collectively account for 60% of the world import trade of NWFPs. Custom duties on NWFPs in these markets are generally quite low; 40-47% of the NWFP-containing tariff lines face no duty, while another 24-27% of the tariff lines face a nominal duty of 1-5%. Only a few tariff lines (4% in case of EC and USA and 9.5% in Japanese market), containing products like natural honey, truffles, spices, maple syrup and certain articles of natural cork and bamboo face custom duty higher than 15%. In addition to the import duty, a consumption tax of 3% is levied on almost all products imported into Japan.
Tariffs on the NWFPs imported into developing
countries, however, are considerably higher. For example, import tariff
rates as high as 60-65% are not uncommon for some NWFPs in the major exporting
nations of China and India. Such high tariff rates reflect both the tendencies
of "protectionism" as well as revenue generation for the state.
Tariff rates will be reduced further after implementation
of decisions of the Uruguay Round. Average bound rate on NWFP-containing
tariff lines will be reduced to 1.70%, 1.95% and 2.96% in the EC, USA and
Japan, respectively. More than 97% of the NWFP-containing tariff lines
will then face import duty less than 10%. A few products like natural honey,
some articles of rattan or of palm leaf, flour and meal of sago, shellac
and maple syrup will, however, still be facing custom tariffs higher than
15% in these markets.
Tariffs (taxes) levied on NWFPs exported from developing
countries are also common and can reach high levels. The main objective
of these is to secure revenue for the state, although such high rates can
prove counter-productive by reducing the profitability and hence the extent
of the trade, encouraging cross-border smuggling and reducing the standard
of care and protection of the forests and their products.
Species protection regulations (CITES) and
health and safety regulations are two common forms of NTMs facing
NWFP trade in EC, USA and Japanese markets. The former attempts to regulate
trade in plants and animals in order to protect them from extinction; the
latter attempts to stop the introduction of micro-organisms and unwanted
forms of animal life into the importing countries. The latter are important
for legitimate health and safety reasons and hence their enforcement is
essential, despite their distorting effect on international trade in NWFPs.
It is therefore important that suppliers in developing countries are aware
of the importance of effectively meeting the phyto-sanitary regulations
and standards of developed countries.
Elaborate technical and quality standards exist for
a number of NWFPs and most purchases are made on the basis of a product
analysis of samples supplied by the exporter in a laboratory selected by
the buyer. Although most of these are not formal trade restrictions imposed
for protective reasons they do constitute major barriers to many suppliers.
Most are however legitimate regulations that exporters must adapt to if
they are to trade internationally. The more effectively exporters can meet
the regulations the more effective their trade will be.
State controls over collection, processing, pricing
and trade are common in developing countries, and tend to distort and restrain
international trade in NWFPs. Thus, steps should to be taken to minimize
these wherever possible, since regulated trade through the private sector
is likely to be more effective.
NWFP trade does not face the same problems of restriction
and controls such as consumer/trade boycotts, direct control or bans which
face international trade in timber and some other wood products. These
are being promoted as solutions to the problems of the world's forests.
These efforts to sustain forests do offer good opportunities and prospects
for international trade in NWFPs since they are seen as being beneficial
to the protection of the forests. Thus this may in fact provide a strong
tool for the marketing of NWFPs.