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US government representatives have sent a letter to the EU Commission asking for the Deforestation Free Products Regulation to be delayed for US traders. The US is the latest government to put pressure on the EU to address the commercial and trade concerns raised by the Regulation, which will being applying to companies from December. 
  • The EU Deforestation Free Products Regulation continues to face strong opposition and criticism from both within the EU and abroad. The latest request to delay the legislation now comes from the US. According to media reports including the Financial Times (FT) and Bloomberg on 30 May, US secretaries of commerce and agriculture, and a US trade envoy sent a letter to the EU Commission requesting a delay of the Regulation for US products.
  • The letter, which is not publicly available, states that the Regulation will lead to “critical challenges” for US producers. According to the FT, the sectors most impacted in the US are timber, paper, and pulp, which have driven US intervention on this legislation. The US supplies 85% of tissues and menstrual products commodities globally. The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), which has campaigned US Congress for intervention on the Regulation, alleged it was “impossible” to meet the obligations for traceability as these products are made from leftover sawmill and forest residue combined from several sources and it is impossible to trace every single piece of fibre. As a “low-risk country” with responsible supply chain management, the letter claims that the legislation poses unnecessary restrictions to trade. According to media reports, the EU has said that it received the letter and will respond in due course.

Criticism of the legislation from other sources

  • There has been criticism and requests to delay the legislation from within and outside the EU. Within the EU, the commissioners for international partnerships and agriculture, and EU member states ministers for agriculture and the economy, led by Austria, have lobbied the Commission asking for a delay in implementation. They also argue that large-scale deforestation does not occur in the EU, but in areas outside the EU, so this is where implementation should be focused.
  • In Germany, cocoa company Albrecht & Dill Trading filed a lawsuit against the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food alleging that the EU Deforestation Free Products Regulation is overly burdensome and impossible to meet.
  • Producer countries outside of the EU including Malaysia and Indonesia have heavily criticised the inclusion of palm oil in the Regulation. This resulted in the establishment of a Joint Task Force with the EU to address their concerns. The Ethiopian government also reportedly requested an extension for implementation of the new requirements with respect to coffee, which the EU rejected.

About the Regulation

  • The Regulation prohibits products from being placed on the EU market or exported from the EU unless they are deforestation-free and are covered by a due diligence statement.  The Regulation targets cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm-oil, soya, wood, rubber, and products that contain, have been fed with or have been made using these commodities. This includes, for example, charcoal, paper products, leather, chocolate, furniture, and palm oil derivatives. 
  • The Regulation applies a risk-based classification of countries into “high risk,” “low risk,” and “standard risk”. The higher the level of risk, the more operators and traders need to be checked annually. According to reports, the EU is considering delaying the risk-based classification following criticism from some producer countries. This means that products from all import countries will be classified as standard risk and treated the same, this includes countries within the EU. 
  • The Regulation was adopted in May 2023, and is in force as of June 2023. It will apply to large companies from 30 December 2024, and to SMEs from 30 June 2025.
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