CITES Rosewood Restrictions on Musical Instruments Have Ended

On August 28, 2019, the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) in Geneva, Switzerland voted to exempt finished musical instruments, parts, and accessories from CITES restrictions on all rosewood species except Brazilian rosewood. The restrictions on Brazilian rosewood, whose endangered species status and restrictions predate those on other kinds of rosewood, remain in place.

As of November 26, 2019, the exemption for musical instruments is now in effect, according to the CITES convention. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will no longer issue permits for the export of finished musical instruments, parts, and accessories, bringing an end to much of the headaches that have plagued the musical instruments industry for the last several years.

According to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), CITES member countries outside of the US may still have restrictions in place as they move toward abiding by the musical instruments exemption. NAMM advises anyone exporting instruments from the US to "check with the recipient's country to see what permits, if any, are required."

Note: The European Union will take up to four weeks (or possibly longer) to implement the exemption, according to France's musical instruments trade group CSFI. Until that time, exporting instruments containing rosewood from the EU will still require an export permit. As of November 26, an import permit will still be required for EU member states, but when applying for an import permit, you no longer need to have an accompanying export permit or "CITES Appendix" form. For more info, check out CSFI's website here.

As many Reverb sellers and buyers will know, CITES restrictions on the international trade of rosewood had made the sale of (and sometimes merely the travel with) musical instruments a painful process.

The exemption now in place is the result of a years-long campaign. A coalition of musical instrument manufacturers and other gear industry actors has, since at least 2016, argued that instruments containing rosewood (outside of Brazilian rosewood) should not be restricted by CITES.

When implemented in 2017, the regulations sought to reduce the amount of endangered rosewood, bubinga, and some other tonewoods that are used for manufacturing all kinds of products around the world.

The basic argument made by NAMM and others was that the amount of rosewood used for making musical instruments pales in comparison to the amount used to make furniture, and creates undue burdens for instrument manufacturers, dealers, and buyers. Even with the exemption for finished musical instruments and products, companies that buy raw rosewood will still have to abide by separate protections.

For more information on how to comply with CITES, check out Reverb's Help Center page here.

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