A Change Within CITES
Will rosewood return to the guitar industry in 2019?
The changes limiting the export of rosewood that took effect at the beginning of 2017 have been huge for the guitar industry. In a further blow to builders of all sizes, it even affected the use of certain types of bubinga and cocobolo woods for new instruments. But now there could be tentative cause for celebration on the horizon.
The original regulations imposed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) applied to all exports of rosewood from manufacturers. But following the October meeting of the CITES Standing Committee in Sochi, Russia, NAMM (North American Association of Musical Merchants) released a statement to report that a change in regulations had been recommended by a working group comprising musical-instrument industry representatives to make instruments exempt from the regulations. And it was met with agreement.
Scott Paul, director of Natural Resource Sustainability at Taylor Guitars, was part of the group and spoke to Guitarist about the developments: “We estimate that worldwide musical-instrument manufacturers are responsible for less than a 10th of one per cent of the annual global trade in rosewood, yet I think it’s fair to say that no other industry was hit harder than ours when the CITES rosewood regulations came into effect in January 2017… It has been a difficult past few years, but we are optimistic that relief for our sector may be on the horizon when CITES meets next in Sri Lanka in May 2019.”
That meeting will decide the fate of rosewood’s return to guitars. The proposal needs to be put in the form of a resolution, sponsored by a government body and formally submitted for consideration at the 18th Conference Of The Parties in Sri Lanka in May. If adopted, it could go into effect in the middle of the year.
It’s a development Martin Guitars is eager to see: “We were pleased that the CITES parties recognised that the administrative burden of the Dalbergia listing, for our industry and CITES management, exceeds any conservation benefit,” says Frank Untermyer, director of Supply Chain Management at Martin. “The CITES Sochi Standing Committee recommendation to exempt finished musical instruments, as well as their finished parts and accessories, is reflective of this recognition.”
But as Untermyer points out, there’s still a way to go yet before the change can be ratified: “Canada plans to submit a formal proposal to CITES mirroring the Standing Committee recommendation. We recognise the process is not yet over; other parties may submit alternate proposals. We anticipate further discussion on the issue leading up to the Conference Of Parties, where a final decision will be made.”
CITES’ meeting in Sri Lanka in May could have a huge impact on our industry