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Old 02-02-2019, 06:17 AM
GaultierRedon14 GaultierRedon14 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Washington, IN
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Default HELP! CITES restrictions and Pernambuco guitars--Exempt or not?

So I'm briefly interrupting the build thread with this question. I may post the question in General depending on the responses I get here.

I'm posing this question because Tim recently spent over an hour (bless his heart!) talking to someone from either FWS or DHS (it was someone he was directed to in order to discuss this general issue of CITES and permits) and Tim relayed this, "(IF) I were shipping the guitar to you I am REQUIRED by US law to provide the (international) recipient with CITES permit because Pernambuco is listed on the convention as an endangered species, regardless if its in log or finished form", and that I need to get a CITES permit myself if I want to travel overseas with it--basically, a Pernambuco guitar IS regulated by CITES Appendix II.

But, as far as I know, based on reading CITES itself, as well as numerous explanations on the issue (some included below), a Pernambuco instrument (violin bow, guitar, oboe, whatever) is absolutely exempt from CITES restrictions.

As such, shipping or traveling with a Pernambuco instrument requires no CITES permit, Musical Instrument Certificate (MIC), or any other formal CITES-related documentation, and the quote above given to Tim by some federal bureaucrat (in particular, "regardless if its in log or finished form") is in clear contradiction to everything written on the topic.

Specifically, any "finished" Pernambuco product (which would obviously include violin bows and guitars) is simply outside the purview of the CITES Appendix II restrictions on Pernambuco, and is free to roam the world.

If you believe I am in error, please share the relevant documentation stating otherwise!!
It may be worth noting that we're talking about Pernambuco--NOT Brazilian Rosewood which, as most of you are well aware, is heavily restricted under Appendix I--this is a completely separate issue.

Here are the facts as I know them:

In June of 2007, Pernambuco (the Echinata variety) was listed on CITES Appendix II, but with the following annotation (#10):

"Logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, including UNFINISHED wood articles used for the fabrication of bows for stringed musical instruments"

--this lists the specific/particular forms of "P" that are restricted under CITES and require permits for import/export.
All of these forms of "P" are wood in it's raw, unfinished form, you'll note.

About three months later on August 14th, 2007, a key statement clarifying the "P" restrictions was released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS):

In it, there is the following statement:
"The following commodities are regulated by the CITES listing of Pernambuco: logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, and unfinished wood articles used for the fabrication of bows used for stringed musical instruments. The listing does NOT include FINISHED wood articles made of Pernambuco wood".

That last sentence, it seems to me, indicates that a guitar with Pernambuco back and sides is NOT within the purview of the CITES restrictions because a guitar is clearly a "finished wood article", just like a violin bow. By contrast, a Pernambuco back/side tone wood set or a fretboard blank WOULD be subject to CITES regulations because it's not a finished wood product and would likely be considered as "sawn wood", a term specifically used in the CITES listing.

Another statement from the same article:

"Finished bows and other finished articles made of Pernambuco wood are not covered by the listing and are not subject to the provision of CITES. If you intend to ship finished pernambuco bows or products will not be required to obtain CITES documents"

I am unaware of any subsequent amendments, alterations, modifications, etc., to this document.

Here is yet another useful quote on the topic (there are many I've found) from February 5th, 2018. It's from a website giving detailed CITES information for traveling musicians :

"The Pernambuco exemption
Pernambuco (Caesalpinia echinata) was listed in CITES Appendix II in 2007. Pernambuco logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets and unfinished articles used for the fabrication of bows for stringed musical instruments are classified under Appen- dix II. This listing does not include finished articles made of Pernambuco wood. Therefore, no certificate is required if you cross a border with an instrument/bow containing Pernambuco wood. This exemption does not apply to other protected species (e.g. ivory) that this instrument/bow may contain."

I can list other websites with similar claims about Pernambuco instruments being exempt from CITES, but I think I've made my point, if you've followed thus far.

So, anyone with special knowledge or experience with this question that can show me any official CITES-related statement to the contrary?

I had thought at first this was a straight forward issue, but after the information Tim received, I'm confused.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and share your knowledge!

2015 Doerr "Signature" Trinity--Cedar/ Master Grade Brazilian
2016 Edwinson EPC Fanfret--Ancient Glacier Sitka Spruce/Rosewood
2016 Hippner "Torres"--German Spruce/Pernambuco
2019 McKnight Lowlander--German Spruce/Pernambuco

Last edited by GaultierRedon14; 02-02-2019 at 09:02 AM.
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