In January, the International Coalition Meeting involving trade bodies from all over the world discussed the proposal to exempt rosewood used in instrument manufacture from CITES regulatory controls. If adopted, this would have a huge impact on guitar makers all over the world.
In May 2019, the CITES board will meet in Sri Lanka to discuss the regulations governing the use of rosewood. The guitar industry has been trying to lobby for changes to the existing restrictions on rosewood in instrument manufacture. They argue that musical instruments were never really the intended target for the CITES ruling in the first place, and that rosewood restrictions were predominantly aimed at stopping illegal logging in the furniture industry.
A day before the Winter NAMM show, an International Coalition Meeting of interested parties like guitar industry trade bodies meets up to discuss issues of the day. This year, the focus was on the rosewood rules in CITES. According to the mia website, a UK body that’s part of the coalition, a proposal was introduced to exempt rosewood instruments from CITES regulations. We wrote about some of the proposed amendments back in October last year, calling it CITES II. Crucially, the mia now says that “this formal proposal has already been nominally agreed, but needs the ratification at the meeting in May.”
The discussion includes the following exemptions: finished musical instruments containing rosewood, finished musical instrument parts containing rosewood and finished musical accessories containing rosewood.
Most of the proposed amendments make sense and will have practical implications for many musicians. Currently, there are lots of confused instrument owners and buyers who are not sure how to move their prized instruments across international borders. See the video I have attached below for a brief but thorough overview of the current CITES regulations.
Much of the guitar industry, meanwhile, has turned to Pau Ferro or other alternative woods for guitar construction, which has had mixed reactions from consumers. Ideally, we will see the CITES regulations updated to a more sensible and practical application for musical instruments. This should preserve the use of traditional woods in guitar construction yet ultimately help sustain the world’s forests. Of course, what we don’t know is whether or not the big guitar companies will go back to using rosewood as standard. Or will its use become an excuse for an upcharge to buyers? We’ll keep you up to date with CITES news as it happens…