Peru restores independence of forest auditor after uproar

April 9, 2019

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru’s government has restored the independence of an agency charged with combating illegal logging after facing potential U.S. sanctions.

President Martin Vizcarra issued a decree published Tuesday removing the forest inspection agency from the Environment Ministry’s jurisdiction.

The move comes nearly four months after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer took an initial step toward potential sanctions against Peru for allegedly violating environmental protections aimed at combatting illegal logging.

Lighthizer and environmentalists expressed concern that officials were stripping the agency responsible for monitoring the logging trade of its independence by placing it under the Environment Ministry.

Peruvian officials contended the agency retained full independence.

The forest inspection office is required to be independent under the U.S.-Peru trade pact.

The World Bank estimates 80 percent of Peru’s timber exports are illegal