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sequoia
03-03-2017, 07:03 PM
LMI sent me an email that if I wished they would send me a detailed explanation on the coming restrictions on east Indian rosewood. I replied that I would like to see an explanation of the coming restriction because I don't really get it. Please clarify.

Well I still don't really get it. I concede that my brain doesn't really work in these legal, lawerly ways. I mean what the hell is an annotation? Notice that all rosewoods or all Dalbergia is being lumped. This is kind of nuts and doesn't make sense. Do these people know wood or am I missing something?

Below is the email I got:

The New CITES Ruling

Some Explanations.
CITES is an international organization that regulates the import and export of plant and animal
species and materials in order to protect endangered species. Their rulings are legally binding in all of
the 182 countries who participate. It is CITES, for example, that strictly prohibits the import and export
of elephant ivory. There are three “Appendices” with Appendix I being used for the most stringent
protections (Ivory, Brazilian Rosewood) and Appendices II and III being less stringent.
During their recent congress, the CITES body moved all Dalbergia species (Rosewoods of every kind)
to Appendix II unless the specie was already on Appendix I. Other guitar woods are already at
Appendix II, the most common one being Honduran (or “genuine”) Mahogany.
All woods listed on CITES Appendices require CITES import / export permits and related fees and
forms in order to get the wood over any international border. This is why LMI does not sell Mahogany
blanks internationally. However, with Mahogany and some other CITES listed materials, there is an
‘annotation’ on the ruling which allows for exceptions and exclusions to the import/export
restrictions. For this reason, we are able to sell a pre-carved Mahogany neck to an international
customer, but not a rectangular neck blank. We can sell mahogany kerfing, but not an electric guitar
body blank or bracewood blank.
The new ruling for Rosewood is different as there are no similar annotations. So unfortunately,
when the new CITES ruling took effect on 1/4/2017 we and other wood sellers were no longer able
to feasibly retail any Rosewood part internationally, worked or un-worked unless annotations are
added to the listing. This includes Indian Rosewood, which unlike most of the other Rosewood species,
has been harvested and exported with great care and oversight by the Indian government and in many
cases, by third-party certifiers like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Why include Indian Rosewood along with other Rosewoods (which are threatened)? By lumping all the
Rosewoods together it removes the responsibility of customs officials from having to distinguish
between the different species of Rosewood, which can often be very difficult. Misrepresenting
Rosewood species (calling Cocobolo ‘Indian Rosewood’ for example) has been a common method of
smuggling.

Briangriffinukuleles
03-03-2017, 07:36 PM
Am I to understand then, that LMI and other importer/retailers can still sell Indian Rosewood, Cocobolo or other woods that they legally import with the required documents and fees, to luthiers in the U.S? And if that is so, will they provide the necessary documents so that we can pass them on to the customers of our finished instruments so they can transport them across borders?
I support the idea of protecting these marvelous woods, but life is sure getting complicated.

sequoia
03-03-2017, 08:51 PM
I hear you and I don't understand either. This all sounds like gafflebab to me. From what I can tell is that nobody can clearly state what the hell is going on. ... I suppose it will be sorted out in the end.

cml
03-03-2017, 09:51 PM
It's a real nuisance. Stewmac and lmi no longer sell these internationally.

kypfer
03-03-2017, 10:50 PM
I mean what the hell is an annotation? ... basically, in this context, it's an amendment covering a specific circumstance.

The new regulations have been introduced as a cover-all, simply put, "Don't do it"

Eventually, given sufficiently valid argument, specific exclusions may be annotated (added) to cover that circumstance.

It's a lot easier and quicker to say "don't do it at all" and get that enshrined in law. The if's, but's and maybe's can be argued about later, in the meantime the species is being protected :)

Pete Howlett
03-03-2017, 11:47 PM
There are other alternatives and ebony is still ok.

DPO
03-04-2017, 10:22 AM
This should be treated as a wonderful challenge to find and use other woods. The world won't end if Ukuleles or guitars are not made of Mahogany or Rosewood. There are hundreds of other specie to experiment with.

hendulele
03-04-2017, 11:19 AM
Bazmaz's latest review is of a KoAloha Opio spruce-topped tenor that uses a mahogany fretboard ...

kkimura
03-04-2017, 11:25 AM
What does this mean for all the guitars and ukuleles that have rosewood fretboards and bridges? Can they be confiscated by customs agents now?

kypfer
03-04-2017, 01:23 PM
What does this mean for all the guitars and ukuleles that have rosewood fretboards and bridges? Can they be confiscated by customs agents now?

Potentially, yes!

If you've got something valuable you want to import/export, get clarification, in writing, from each and every set of officials you're likely to encounter, before you get there!

Even then, there's no guarantee that the officers you meet on the day won't have a different opinion and decide to impound your whatever until they've double-checked.

Customs officials can, literally, be a law unto themselves. It pays to keep on the right side of them!

Vic Arpeggio
03-30-2017, 01:53 PM
Elderly is not shipping many items internationally now and is in the process of trying to sort through all the paper work with the US and other governments. They told me it would be months at least to get through the process. Americans still have access to the very large American market but as a Canadian looking to upgrade my uke, my options are more limited.

Pete Howlett
03-30-2017, 08:08 PM
It means that exporting is now such a complicated and awkward business that we are all going to be forced to prefer 'local' - a good thing in my eyes. Builders like Chuck saw the writing on the wall some time ago and pulled up the draw bridge - the sad thing about this is there is no-one in the UK of the stature of Chuck regarding inlay work to fill the void caused by this ridiculously draconian international legislation. At least the US was ahead of the wave - we are so behind here in the UK - our Customs and Excise hadn't even any documentation in place when I started looking in December last year... And yes, it is a great and much welsome 'forced opportunity' for builders to start looking for real alternatives though I suspect the days of exporting fine instruments made from lovely wood are definitely numbered.

Vic Arpeggio
03-31-2017, 04:44 AM
New CITES rules are a business killer. I spoke with someone at HMS last night. Anything with rosewood cannot be shipped for export without a $93 permit fee. If the instrument has abalone also, that requires another permit. There is a hefty fine for non compliance.

Fees apply to imports also. Offshore companies like Pono, Kala, Kiwaya, etc. are stuck with stock that require expensive permits plus the wait to go through the process.

Here's the kicker, it may take months for each permit to process!

What I am not clear on is whether CITES forms are required every time an instrument with rosewood crosses a border, when ukes are imported to the US dealers and then exported elsewhere.

Michael N.
03-31-2017, 05:18 AM
I've been using walnut and maple for many years now. So called 'alternative' woods have a long history in musical instrument making, so I haven't the slightest fear of using them. I've also become somewhat sensitised to ebony dust and therefore I use bog oak as an alternative. It's a great alternative at that. It's been almost a year since I last used rosewood and I've been slowly reducing my use of it for a decade.
Having said all that rosewood will not disappear and luthiers will continue to export instruments with it. I see no difference to the use of the restricted Cedrela. Makers didn't stop using cedrela, nor have they stopped exporting instruments that contain cedrela. There's more paperwork, more cost but it's not illegal. Not even close.

sequoia
03-31-2017, 09:16 PM
... And yes, it is a great and much welcome 'forced opportunity' for builders to start looking for real alternatives though I suspect the days of exporting fine instruments made from lovely wood are definitely numbered.

I'm not a luthier by profession, but I built some instruments back in early nineties (90's) just for fun just before the Brazilian rosewood strictures set in I could see even then that that the end was coming. It was inevitable and obvious to me way back when that this couldn't last... Yes, there are certainly lovely replacement woods but gosh darnit, I do like rosewood and I'm gonna miss it. Deeply. So it isn't like this is some sort of surprise to luthiers. The writing has been on the wall for decades. Plus look on the positive side, the stuff is definitely toxic and oily and nasty. The thing I'm going to miss is that it looks and sounds great and I love it. Onward and upwards! Evolve change or die.... Now I hear this ovangkol stuff is great and just the cats meow. Sorry. Nothing will replace that beautiful Dalbergia sp. There is just something about it. Sorry, it just isn't really replaceable.

Rakelele
03-31-2017, 09:42 PM
Can any maker or dealer share their experiences with this new regulation so far? Has any shipment of wood or finished instruments been stopped, or even confiscated? Can papers be acquired for any instrument, even the ones that are already in stock? With Rosewood being used for fretboards and bridges on a wide range of ukes, from cheap Chinese imports up to the Hawaiian K brands, is it impossible now to have such an instrument shipped across international borders? Can dealers in Canada or Europe still import brands like Kala, Pono, or Kanilea, or are their businesses doomed (or forced to restrict themselves to instruments without Rosewood)? Are companies changing their models to other woods like Ebony (which may end up on that same list even faster with this measure)?

Michael N.
03-31-2017, 11:03 PM
In the UK I could have registered what stocks of rosewood I have. I still have the receipts (for tax purposes) even though the wood was bought years ago. I didn't bother because I have so little of it left, 5 or 6 sets. That can still be used for instruments within the UK (or the EU, for next 2 years). If I registered the wood I could have used it and exported.
You can still cross borders with your rosewood instruments, part of your personal allowance, which I believe has a 10 Kg upper limit.
Don't be confused. This is not an outright ban, it's a control. Providing makers have the required documentation there is nothing to stop them exporting across international borders. It is true that it will cost more because you will need to pay for the CITES certification. If you are selling within the US or within your own borders (or within the EU) it won't cost anything. It won't affect the US or the EU as much as it will some other countries. They both have relatively large indigenous markets. The death of rosewood and it's use in musical instruments is nonsense. It will be continually used for most of our lifetimes and beyond. This is not the same situation as Brazilian rosewood restriction.

sequoia
04-01-2017, 08:28 PM
The death of rosewood and it's use in musical instruments is nonsense. It will be continually used for most of our lifetimes and beyond. This is not the same situation as Brazilian rosewood restriction.

I think you are maybe right Michael. This is not about restricting Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) which was and still is over exploited and has been on the highest CITES restricted list for decades and that is a good thing. I don't ever expect to buy or work with Dalbergia nigra ever again and I'm ok with that. I think the fear and confusion comes from the idea that there is blanket restriction on all Dalbergia sp. including the main stay East Indian rosewood which is a mainstay of the industry. The problem as I see it is that if East India rosewood (Dalbergia Latifolia) comes under these new restrictions, it isn't so much the export of the wood as a finished product but the import of the wood as raw material that becomes a problem. True, I'll bet there are stocks of imported D. latifolia already in stock that will last us many, many years so maybe this whole thing is much ado about nothing?

Michael N.
04-01-2017, 10:39 PM
Nothing to stop you or anyone else importing rosewood. Fact. You do need the certificate for the wood that you are buying though. Indian Rosewood has been controlled by the Indian government for years. It will continue to be readily available for decades. It may cost more but it's still relatively cheap.
AFAIK the blanket restriction was imposed because the customs authorities were having difficulties differentiating between rosewoods. I suspect that they are more interested in much larger shipments, trying to ensure it is legal and that it has the correct certification. Very small importation of a few dozen sets of Indian rosewood has just been caught up in the cross fire.

Rakelele
04-01-2017, 10:59 PM
Answering the last part of my own question above, I think there are some companies changing their models in order to replace the Rosewood parts: I know Pono is switching to Ebony fretboards and bridges on all models, and Kanile'a is now presenting their models with Ebony fretboards (and beach sand inlay instead of Abalone position markers).

AndrewKuker
04-05-2017, 11:17 AM
Can any maker or dealer share their experiences with this new regulation so far? Has any shipment of wood or finished instruments been stopped, or even confiscated? Can papers be acquired for any instrument, even the ones that are already in stock? With Rosewood being used for fretboards and bridges on a wide range of ukes, from cheap Chinese imports up to the Hawaiian K brands, is it impossible now to have such an instrument shipped across international borders? Can dealers in Canada or Europe still import brands like Kala, Pono, or Kanilea, or are their businesses doomed (or forced to restrict themselves to instruments without Rosewood)? Are companies changing their models to other woods like Ebony (which may end up on that same list even faster with this measure)?

I will fill you in on our recent experiences. Last year we filed for a rosewood permit compiled of hundreds of models from various brands. Took many hours to list all the species and weights and estimate instruments being built through the year for our master file.

Then as we aited for that, earlier this year, all of our international shipments got pulled one day, not because of rosewood, but because of shell. Pearl/ abalone is not endangered, but apparently it still requires a permit of $93 per shipment. Oddly, I learned this after well over 5,000 international ukulele shipments in the last 5 years. So they gave me a warning and said next time the fine would be $5,000-$25,000. Funny but to get the permit you just go onto the F&W website, tell them what you’re shipping, and pay with your credit card. No real regulating to it. But we are doing that now on some instruments without charging the customer.

Even more odd is that is what I next found out from F&W. If an instrument has rosewood and shell, beyond the rosewood permit, the shell permit will double to $186, simply because it has rosewood, even with the rosewood permit.

Now there is an exemption you can file for that allows a small business to ship shell without needing a permit. Stipulation is that you can not ever ship any products on cites international. So no rosewood can ever ship international. So weird these rules, anyway…

Given this new information we applied for that and coordinated with most of our suppliers to make models without rosewood. Some of them had already been planning this. Kanile’a, KoAloha, Pono, and Kala are some of the main manufacturers working with us to replace or amend their instruments to have the main models available without rosewood. Mostly ebony, Kala will be using walnut on many import models. These would not require any permits.

For many makers this will not be such a big deal. For us it’s been really hard to navigate and has taken a large portion of our business for the time being. It’s a shame that they didn’t give the industry more time to adjust before putting this law into affect, but it will start to get easier. That is, until ebony joins the list….

I'm all for regulation environmental protection. Unfortunately this blanket regulation doesn't address the main problems. Corruption within third world government agencies will not slow and neither will the demand for rosewood furniture in these Chinese markets that are buying logs by the minute. But I can’t solve the worlds problems. I’ll try my best to follow the rules and still maintain our business with great customers around the world.

saltytri
04-05-2017, 12:00 PM
Andrew, does this mean that builders should avoid MOP markers?

AndrewKuker
04-05-2017, 01:31 PM
I think we will have exemption soon for shell permits. But if you plan on using rosewood and being able to ship internationally you might want to look at alternate resources. Otherwise beyond the rosewood permit, the shell permit will be $186 more. But you can always take your chances and play stupid. I'm not sure if it's just our local F&W or if they are cracking down nation wide. Maybe environmental agencies are trying to show profitability at this point in fear of elimination, idk. We've probably shipped 10,000 ukes with shell internationally and just got schooled on this a few months ago.

saltytri
04-05-2017, 01:52 PM
I've got one coming to you so I won't use MOP on that.

hawaii 50
04-05-2017, 04:15 PM
I've got one coming to you so I won't use MOP on that.


hey David use Andrew as your shipping agent....not sure if this possible but you got to get your ukes overseas..huge market there.....:) good luck but I just remembered you are a Lawyer...so you the can read and understand the rules too....

saltytri
04-05-2017, 04:32 PM
hey David use Andrew as your shipping agent....not sure if this possible but you got to get your ukes overseas..huge market there.....:) good luck but I just remembered you are a Lawyer...so you the can read and understand the rules too....

You're right, Len. Andrew has great access to the market. As for the lawyer thing, I'm over it. I've tried to dig into the CITES and USF&W rules and just got a headache. Since I can almost hit the one and only USF&W Forensics Lab with a rock thrown from my deck (not that I would try, of course), I'm committed to following the rules if I can figure out what they are.

slackkey007
04-05-2017, 04:42 PM
Lol!:agree: Who can understand all that legal jargon of a mess anyway!!!???:confused:

uke51
04-06-2017, 03:19 AM
Is it all shell inlay, or just abalone that is restricted?

AndrewKuker
04-06-2017, 10:58 AM
I've got one coming to you so I won't use MOP on that.

Thanks David. Been talking with F&W and we are close to having our exemption for shell. But that's cool, I like blank fretboards and always a joy to show your ukes.


Lol!:agree: Who can understand all that legal jargon of a mess anyway!!!???:confused:

It's hard to explain nonsense.


Is it all shell inlay, or just abalone that is restricted?

All shell, MOP included. Even ablam.

AndrewKuker
04-06-2017, 11:11 AM
Just got a response from Ann Marie at the main F&W branch that totally changes things once again for us. Our local F&W was wrong!

"Great, thank you, Andrew. You will be accepted into the program. To
clarify with the CITES, if the only CITES item in the shipment is rosewood,
then there would be no associated CITES premium inspection fee with FWS and
this would NOT result in your removal from the program. The no CITES
requirement only applies to CITES wildlife. I would suggest speaking to
one of the local Wildlife Inspector's in Honolulu regarding the rosewood.

Also, I bought my ukulele from you guys a couple years ago, a Kala soprano.
:)"

SO, we are now exempt from shell permits, AND we can restart the application for rosewood we dropped after given false info from Hawaii dept.

The fact that our local department was wrong shows how complicated this crap is though. Their main job is to understand this stuff and they still don't!

saltytri
04-06-2017, 02:13 PM
SO, we are now exempt from shell permits,

So, does this mean I can use my MOP logo inlay on the peg head? Or should I use wood or plastic?

AndrewKuker
04-06-2017, 02:19 PM
So, does this mean I can use my MOP logo inlay on the peg head? Or should I use wood or plastic?

Yeah, sorry for the confusion. We won't need the permit for pearl now. Or we won't need to pay, I guess we still file the eDec but won't have the charge on international shipments. Thanks Dave. And if anyone has issues shipping pearl and is a small business I can point you to the exemption to file.

saltytri
04-06-2017, 03:40 PM
That's good news for a lot of people! Thanks, Andrew, for the information and, most of all, for the huge effort you've put into figuring out this mess.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
04-07-2017, 08:14 AM
Huh? I'm still confused. ;)

DownUpDave
04-07-2017, 09:09 AM
Huh? I'm still confused. ;)

Yea me too Chuck. I bought a used baritone with Spruce and Cocobolo (I think Cocobolo is an issue) from the Marketplace. It was shipped from the US to Canada and was held up at customs for a week. I was sweating bullets but I got notification it was processed through and is at my post office for pick up. Whewwwww!!!!!

Kanya
05-18-2017, 10:02 AM
May I please ask you if it is possible to import a used instrument with Honduran and East Indian rosewood from the US to Europe if you can provide an invoice which proves that the instrument was definitely built and / or sold for the first time before the date of the new restrictions? It would also be very helpful to know if there was a possibility of having issued a rosewood permit by the retailer who originally sold the instrument to its first owner when it was new.

I'd be very grateful if you helped me to find out about the regulations which apply when I - as a European buyer - intend to buy a used ukulele from a private person in the US.