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Stefanishyna: Cancellation of moratorium in absence of timber market to simplify export of round timber.

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna says that the absence of a timber market, if the export moratorium is lifted, will simply simplify the export of round timber.

"We are implementing it gradually. Of course, the decision of the arbitration provides for the abolition of the law introducing the moratorium, but it contains several more important elements. In particular, the decision of the arbitration panel established that there is no forestry policy in Ukraine as such. Therefore, the first stage in the execution of the decision was the adoption at the first reading of the draft law On the timber market," Stefanishyna said in an exclusive interview with the Interfax-Ukraine agency, answering a question about Ukraine's failure to comply with the arbitration decision.

The Deputy Prime Minister noted that the decision to lift the moratorium cannot simply be made without the formation of a certain system.

"The environmental committee and the Ministry of Ecology are preparing appropriate legislative initiatives. First, legislative and by-laws must be adopted to regulate the environmental component and the protection of forests, and then we can talk about lifting the moratorium. We are conducting similar communication with the European side," she said.

Stefanishyna said she was not happy with the fact that Ukraine cannot take any quick steps, since the current situation really creates a certain tension.

"But this is the situation when we can fulfill the decisions of international arbitration institutions, only by defending the internal interests that are important in this area," she said.

When asked if the delay in the execution of the arbitration award would create a negative image around Ukraine, Stefanishyna replied that Ukraine officially recognized and confirmed that it would ensure the execution of the arbitration panel's decision.

"That is, in our official negotiations there is no position that we do not comply with the decision. We presented a vision of how it should be and we understand that the implementation of this decision will take place in stages. It should be understood that the absence of a timber market, if the moratorium is lifted, will just simplify the export of untreated timber. Of course, I would like us to execute the arbitration decision faster, but in this situation the national interest should be preserved, and the sequence of steps is more important than speed," the Deputy Prime Minister said.

As reported, on April 9, 2015, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law which banned the export of unprocessed timber and sawn timber (round timber) for ten years. At the same time, a ban on the export of timber species (except pine) was introduced on November 1, 2015, and timber species - on January 1, 2017.

In 2018, parliament limited domestic consumption of unprocessed timber to 25 billion cubic meters per year for the period of validity of the export of round timber outside the customs territory of the country.

In January 2020, Ukraine and the EU created an arbitration group to consider a dispute over Ukraine's ban on the export of raw timber. At the end of 2020, it issued a decision recognizing Ukraine's right to restrict timber exports under certain circumstances, while at the same time recognizing the need to adjust the 2015 moratorium in cooperation with the EU.

On November 18, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada adopted draft law No. 4197-d On the timber market as a basis, but excluded from it the provision on lifting the moratorium on timber exports.

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