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Thailand Seizes Lumber Enroute from Laos

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Twenty containers labeled as containing charcoal for cooking which were to be delivered to Hongkong were seized at a port in Chon Buri province of Thailand recently.Thai authorities stated on Wednesday that they seized these 20 containers at the end of July because they checked the documents and an X-ray of the containers revealed that it was not in fact charcoal as stated on the documents.

Representatives from the Lao Embassy in Thailand were invited to attend a briefing where Thai police issued a statement in Chon Buri province before opening the doors of the containers to inspect them.

The company that owns these 20 containers was also invited to join the statement by Thai authorities on Wednesday but the representatives of the Lao company could not attend because they were busy.

Based on a local news website in Thailand and some photos posted on social media, when the containers were prised open by the Thai police they were found to contain rosewood and other valuable timbers.

An official of the Lao Embassy in Thailand, who did not wish to be named, told Vientiane Times on Thursday afternoon that it was not all the containers that contained timber, only some of them.

We have yet to get a clear to report on this matter because we don’t know where the wood came from in Laos, only that it crossed into Thailand at the border in Nongkhai, the official said.

He added that all the relevant documents were not present, such as the shipping documents or the invoice to be sent to Hongkong.

The official said some representatives from the company that owns the 20 containers travelled to Thailand to meet officials at the Lao Embassy in Thailand.

They told us the twenty containers contained only charcoal and that they didn’t put the lumber in there, he said.

According to a local news website report, there were various kinds of wood inside the containers including rosewood and other valuable timbers.

Based on news from Facebook, some estimates put the value of the timber at about US$1m if it was sent to a third country.

The Lao authorities are keeping a close watch on such efforts to illegally transport timber out of the country after Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued Order No. 15 on May 13 banning the export of all timber, semi-processed or unfinished wood products.

Deputy Director of the Forest Department, Mr. Boualy Phameuang said that the department has yet to receive any report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Source: Vientiane Times