How Does The CITES Rosewood Law Affect Guitarists in 2018?

CITES are a governing environmental body that look after endangered wild fauna and flora. In 2017 they restricted the sales of Rosewood across international borders to crack down on illegally made furniture.

Unfortunately that also effects the guitar market as so many models use Rosewood as a key material. So we have broken down the laws and have set up this guide to run you through the latest changes to the law and how CITES affects you as a guitar player

CITES Rosewood Restrictions for Guitarists

As of the 2nd of January 2017, a new law has been put into place that will affect how Rosewood is traded across borders. Obviously, a lot of guitars are made with Rosewood for the fretboard and that will have a heavy impact on how easy it is to order a guitar with Rosewood.

It does NOT apply to guitars (or other instruments) that are being traded within the borders of one country, but any time an instrument with Rosewood is sold internationally (or in our case outside of the EU) it requires CITES certification.

Sadly, it stretches beyond Rosewood and into members of the same genus of tree as well as three types of Bubinga. While not many guitars use these rarer rosewoods it’s worth knowing when looking for a new guitar.

The list of restricted woods list includes:

  • - All Rosewood
  • - Granadillo
  • - African Blackwood
  • - Cocobolo
  • - Kingwood
  • - Bubinga
  • - Any other member of the Dalbergia family of woods

Organisations like the Music Industries Association (MIA) in the UK and NAMM in the USA are constantly meeting with CITES and law makers. This is to try and resolve the current issues with the rosewood restrictions. Despite this there are thousands of instruments still being held in ports across the world for undocumented rosewood.

Manufacturers are now changing how they make and sell guitars that normally contain rosewood. We have heard that some of the big guys in the industry are replacing rosewood with ebony, maple or even alternatives like Brazilian ironwood.

We are still expecting more price increases for any guitar that still uses rosewood over the coming months so if you have your eyes on a particular instrument we recommend buying sooner rather than later.

How does it affect me?

What Can Andertons Do:

Depending on the products involved and where you want it shipped to we may be able to ship it outside the EU, though fees for the CITES certification may apply. For more information on this please get in touch. Any international order containing one of the restricted materials will have a delayed shipping time.

What You Can’t Do:

Order a guitar from outside the EU without CITES certification which must state the source of the Rosewood. This certification is the responsibility of the exporter (retailer).

Sell a guitar internationally without CITES certification. The seller is always responsible for this even if it was CITES certified from the retailer you purchased it from. Failure to comply with certification can lead to forfeiture of the item and sometimes the destruction of the item depending on legal jurisdiction.

What does this not change?

Apart from buying and selling guitars there are not any changes unless you plan on travelling with a lot of Rosewood!

You can still travel freely with your instrument as long as you are with it and it has less than 10kg or 22lbs of regulated materials. This does not require CITES certification. Though there is some grey area on traveling to buy or sell CITES restricted guitars in different countries.

You can still buy and sell rosewood within your country (or within the EU, if you are in the EU) without any certification

What’s Next?

Industry leaders in the US, UK and around the world are starting a discussion to lighten the rules on the smaller quantities you will find in fretboards. While there is no guarantee that this will happen, this is a conversation that is happening.

We’ll start to see manufacturers using less and less Rosewood until this can be resolved. Brands like Chapman and Dowina have already started changing their models to use Ebony boards instead of Rosewood.

Because of the cost of Ebony however we are sure to see more companies using man made materials like Gibson’s Richlite or other alternatives like Baked Maple.

Want to Know More?

Here’s what CITES say about the regulation:

‘The success of CITES in supporting legal, sustainable timber trade and addressing illegal trade saw a further 300+ timber species, i.e. all Dalbergia rosewood and palisander species found across the world, being brought under CITES trade controls at CITES CoP17.

Legal international trade in timber is worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Thanks to CITES trade regulations, CITES Management Authorities establish the veracity of the legal origins of rosewood and palisander species before they enter international trade, and CITES Scientific Authorities advise on the sustainable nature of the harvest and exports. Customs officials at border crossings across the globe will verify CITES permits for all such international shipments.’

Need More Information?

If you have any questions or don’t understand how this may affect you and your future purchases, please contact us and we’ll be sure to help.

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