On the occasion of the publication of the 2024 Finance Bill in Gabon, we take a look at the situation in the timber sector, particularly the issue of European imports under the EUTR.
As a reminder, the ATIBT published two articles in September and October on Gabon's timber imports and the EUTR: one following a meeting of the European Commission, the other following exchanges between the ATIBT and the Commission's Directorate-General for the Environment.
As a follow-up to this meeting, the ATIBT was invited to present Gabon's situation at the meeting of the EUTR expert group on 29 November. As a reminder, this group, made up of representatives of the competent authorities of all European Union member states, assesses the situation regarding the application of the EUTR on a monthly basis and makes recommendations. A communication from the European Delegation in Libreville and a presentation by the ATIBT helped to mitigate perceived ideas about Gabon after the coup d'état. The group of experts concluded that due diligence is now possible for timber from Gabon. However, as with all countries in the Congo Basin, it recommends that due diligence be applied in view of the estimated level of risk.
Given that the economic situation in the forestry and timber sector has been very tense since the collapse of the Chinese market in January, combined with logistical services that are non-functional and expensive, representatives of the sector were received by the Chairman of the Commission for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on 24 November. The President subsequently instructed members of the government and company representatives to produce an action plan to help the industry emerge from this crisis. This plan should be based on 3 pillars: Energy (with a review of the cost of diesel for manufacturers), Logistics (with the introduction of a programme to rehabilitate and maintain the country's roads) and Taxation (with a return of cash flow for companies through the repayment of their various debts).
In addition, the 2024 Finance Bill plans changes for the forestry and timber industry: in particular, it envisages a consolidation of taxation for certified operators and an increase in taxation for non-certified operators. To illustrate, the various rates of area tax would be increased to :
300 FCFA per hectare for concessions with FSC or PEFC/PAFC sustainable management certification
600 FCFA per hectare for legally certified concessions
1,000 FCFA per hectare for non-certified concessions.
This project also envisages a broadening of the tax base with regard to exit duties on processed products exported by level of processing, confirming Gabon's commitment to developing the timber industry. The proposed rates would be :
8.5% as opposed to 7% (in the 2020 LFI) for primary processing products (equarris, sawn timber from stumps, forks or branches, rough lumber, planks, poles, chips, sawdust, shavings, paper pulp, charcoal).
5% as opposed to 3% (in the LFI 2020) for secondary transformation products (treated wood, artificially dried wood, sliced or peeled dried veneers, moulded, planed or sanded wood, semi-finished solid wood strips, turned wood, joinery slabs (glued and/or finger-jointed laminated), pellets, briquettes and other fuels).
3% compared with 0% (in the LFI 2020) for third transformation products (sculpted objects, musical instruments and parts of musical instruments, furniture and parts of furniture, joinery (frames, doors, windows, parts of frames and windows, etc.), finished strips and profiles (parquet flooring, cladding, etc.), marquetry, panels, etc.). ), marquetry, panels (solid, chipboard, fibreboard, OSB, plywood, battens, etc.), pallets and crates, worktops, industrial trusses, posts, stakes, etc., shaped railway sleepers (drilled, notched and chamfered, etc.), paper, cannon, bagged charcoal).
The various trade unions in the Gabonese sector are planning to call for a review of these exit duties to take account of the entire value creation chain (from the forest to the export markets for processed products, via the industrial fabric). In particular, they will be arguing for incentives on exit duites for products from a certified value chain as a whole.