A shipment of teak bound for India was seized at the Port of Port-of-Spain on Tuesday morning.
According to information received by Guardian Media, Customs and Excise officers, carrying out an inspection of containers for export, discovered the teak in its rough, undressed format.
The exportation of teak is not banned, however, as explained it must be properly prepared as stated by the State.
Officials at the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries were contacted about the seizure at about 4 pm on Tuesday.
Speaking with Guardian Media, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat said the prices for the local sale of teak by the State are fixed.
The suggested prices for sale to other users are also recommended by the State.
“The prosecution of this matter is handled by Customs and we are not aware at this time of what Customs is considering. Investigations are continuing,” Rambharat said.
He further explained that rough teak was banned from export in 2014 under the new Teak and Pine Policy because it is a precious resource developed over decades for local saw millers and downstream users.
“It is sold at subsidised prices in order to support local furniture manufacturers and other local downstream users,” he said.
The minister disclosed that the issue of unauthorised export of teak has been detected on two occasions since the ban, “but this particular matter is pointing to the possibility of previous exports which were in breach of the ban. The matter is being investigated fully and the appropriate action will be taken.”
The State currently owns approximately 10,000 hectares of teak and 4,500 hectares of Caribbean pine.