Solomon Islands is the first country in the world to receive approval to trade timber products to Australia under new timber legality guidelines.

The Ministry of Forestry and the Australian High Commission announced that Solomon Islands had received approval from Australia for country-specific guidelines used to verify legal origin of Solomon Islands sawn timber exported to Australia.

This will enable exports of Solomon Islands timber to Australia to meet new import requirements for timber, which are due to come into effect on 30 November of this year.

Australian High Commissioner Andrew Byrne said sawn timber exports to Australia are worth SBD$28 million annually and the industry directly employs more than 1,000 people in Solomon Islands.

He said the new guidelines will help protect these exports and jobs.

In handing over copies of the guidelines the High Commissioner congratulated Solomon Islands for being the first country to have a country-specific guideline in place.

He noted that the Australian Government intended to use the guideline developed by Solomon Islands as an example in its negotiations with other trading partners.

Meanwhile, in thanking the Australian Government, Permanent Secretary for Foresty, Barnabas Anga said sawn timber is an important export industry and this work will facilitate further growth in value added timber exports from Solomon Islands.

International markets, such as the USA and European Union, now require that all imported wood products can be demonstrated to have been legally produced.

Australia has followed this market trend with implementation of similar requirements.

To address this market issue the Ministry has worked with the timber industry since June 2013 with technical assistance from PHAMA.

This work has resulted in the development and co-endorsement by the Australian and Solomon Islands Governments of a country specific guideline for Solomon Islands.

The guideline describes the regulatory framework for timber production in Solomon Islands and will help Australian importers to carry out due diligence on Solomon Islands timber.