Home » Across Borders » ISPM 15: New Import/Export Rules for Wood Packing

In addition to security measures being required in international trade, a new issue for the trading community is the growing complication of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures being implemented by member countries of the WTO. Specifically, a new concern for the logistics and trading community is the recent implementation of ISPM 15 by 14 countries and EU, resulting in difficulties to exporters due to varying implementing rules and regulations in each country.

In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has announced the partial implementation of ISPM 15 starting January 1, 2005 and its full implementation by June 1, 2005. Specifically, the Philippines will be requiring by January next year that all wood packing and dunnage be treated (marking not yet required until end of May 2005) for timber pests. The question is whether the Philippine export industry is ready with ISPM 15 systems being implemented by trading countries. Similarly, are local importers fully aware of the new requirements to be implemented next year?

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). SPS is the general term used by the global trading community to refer to standards required for food safety and plant and animal health. Part of the agreements under the WTO is the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures to be applied by member countries on traded goods. Under the SPS Agreement, countries are allowed to used SPS measures based on international standards, guidelines and recommendations, to the extent necessary to protect human, animal and plant life or health. The measures should be based on science and must not be arbitrary and discriminatory. In general, the measures must not become obstacles to trade.

What is ISPM 15? “International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication No. 15: Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade” (ISPM 15) was developed to address the global spread of timber pests by regulating the movement of timber packing and dunnage in international trade. To illustrate on the negative impact of these pests (e.g. Asian long-horn beetle), avenues of trees in cities of Chicago and New York had to be felled to control the spread of these pests. The pests have not yet been eradicated and trees are still being felled in those cities.

ISPM 15 describes phytosanitary measures to reduce the risk of introduction and/or spread of quarantine pests associated with solid timber packing material (dunnage included). The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) addresses plant quarantine through the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The IPPC is an international treaty administered by the FAO and implemented through the cooperation of member governments. As for all other ISPMs, the Secretariat to the IPPC coordinated the development and preparation of ISPM 15 over a period of time through an agreed and defined process of draft development and country consultation. ISPMs are recognized as the basis for phytosanitary measures applied by members of the WTO under the SPS Agreement.

How is ISPM 15 in Practice? In practice all wood packaging (pallets, crates, boxes etc.) made from unprocessed raw wood and used in supporting, protecting or carrying a commodity, must be heat treated or fumigated in a specified manner and the packaging must be stamped on at least two sides with the officially approved mark verifying the treatment and incorporating the registration number of the producer of the packaging. Wood packaging refers to timber packing and dunnage used as follows: (a) packing used to support, protect or carry a commodity; (b) Dunnage used to secure or support a commodity but does not remain associated with the commodity; (c) packing includes dunnage, pallets, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, load boards, pallet collars and skids; and (d) Packing constructed of any number of materials including timber (or wood).

ISPM 15 will not apply to packing material made exclusively from manufactured processed wood products such as plywood, chipboard, fiberboard, oriented-strand board (OSB) and medium density fiberboard (MDF). These are products that are a composite of wood constructed using glue, heat and pressure, or any combination thereof.

ISPM 15 Mark or Stamp. In order to indicate that wood packaging has been subjected to an approved measure, the packing and dunnage must bear the stamp or mark below:

An ISPM 15 compliant stamp must include: (a) The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) symbol; (b) The ISO two letter country code “XX” (followed by a unique number “000” assigned by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) to the producer of the timber packing. “YY” indicates the ISPM 15 approved treatment applied to the timber packing material or dunnage.

Preparing for ISPM 15. Considering that many countries have now implemented ISPM 15 under varying implementing regulations and with many more to implement the measures in the next 2 years, the trading and transport community must be well aware of the increased costs for the treatment of packaging materials and must ensure compliance with the different national measures being imple-mented in those countries, the Philippines included.

The author is an international trade and customs lawyer, and a licensed customs broker. He is also a lecturer on customs and international commerce. Please contact aouvero@dlugms.com or (632) 4050021 / 29 for your comments.

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