Barnes and Mullins

Barnes and Mullins

EU in CITES shock – new rules start Sunday

New CITES rules governing the international trade in products made from, or containing, rosewood and some other woods used in musical instrument manufacture are being implemented by the EU from this coming Sunday – 29th January. Observers had been anticipating the new regulations coming into force in February, or even March.

The news was broken today by the MIA’s Chief Executive, Paul McManus, who has been involved in discussions with DEFRA in the UK and who attended meetings at NAMM last week run in association with the US Fish and Widlife Service.

In theory, the EU’s unexpected move could be of advantage to instrument manufacturers, distributors and retailers, because it promises hope of some standardisation in what was becoming an increasingly complicated situation, with individual countries choosing to implement the law in different ways. That said, Germany is reported to have taken the lead with the strictest implementation by insisting that German traders and instrument makers carry out full scale inventories of all their existing stocks of affected wood and to have notified the authorities before the official CITE cut-off date of 2nd January. How many have completed the stocktake is unclear but there are unconfirmed reports that some German businesses have already had instruments seized.

Unofficially, it is believed that the selling of secondhand instruments may not yet be a priority for enforcement agencies (though Germany may prove to be an exception this!) and that secondhand sales made to EU countries (currently) should not require the sort of certification that sales to, for example, the USA would require. In that instance, a retailer selling a secondhand Les Paul to a customer in the USA would need to ship it via one of the specially designated ports which handle this trade and would need to have acquired the appropriate pre-certification paperwork from DEFRA, proving that the instrument didn’t fall foul of the 2nd January cut-off, when the CITES rules came into being.

The new rules affect most types of rosewood (dalbergia) of over 50 different species and include bubinga, so the implications for musical instruments of many kinds – not just guitars – are significant. Indeed NAMM has described the CITES changes as ‘…the most significant challenge for the music products industry.’

MIN readers are urged to view the latest post-NAMM update on the situation from the MIA, which can be found at

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