CITES update from the NAMM Show


I attended 3 separate meetings whilst at the NAMM Show. One was with all the trade bodies from around the world (i.e. MIA-equivalents) and two were with NAMM, the League of American Orchestras and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (like our DEFRA). Many thanks to NAMM for organising all the meetings.

As before, I will try and summarise in bullet points:


  1. It is very evident that MI companies across the globe are all struggling with the same compliance problems relating to the new rosewood restrictions.
  2. It was also evident that a number of companies have already decided on alternate woods for future production.
  3. We naturally wait to see how consumers will react to non-rosewood guitars!
  4. The US Fish and Wildlife Agency were open and honest about the massive workload they are trying to manage (7 staff for 700 applications at the moment!).
  5. It emerged that CITES chose to restrict ALL rosewoods because of the difficulty in distinguishing between different varieties (go figure!).
  6. The scale of rosewood use was totally underestimated in relation to managing the new restrictions. Forget instruments for one moment, nobody even thought of amount used in cars for dashboards etc.!
  7. East Indian rosewood is a large part of the restriction that affects our industry.
  8. The new restrictions was the first time that finished instruments were included (as opposed to raw materials).
  9. There was a general feeling (naturally not official) that the authorities were generally seeking and checking (at this stage) compliance from companies, rather than individuals with individual instruments.
  10. Germany has emerged as a Country that appears to have especially taken the whole matter very seriously including bespoke rules and regulations!
  11. We gathered that a shipment of new rosewood acoustic guitars bound for Australia had been “held up” at a Japanese port.
  12. We spoke with representatives from Indian MI and they seemed confident that they would achieve “some sort of exemption” for rosewood. We really can’t see how this could be allowed by CITES!
  13. In the meantime, Indian and Indonesian authorities are being urgently asked to create some sort of “Compromise Documentation” (in light of the Reservation Policy they have both adopted (see previous newsletter on MIA website).


  1. Ebony may not be far away in future restrictions (next CITES meeting is 2019).
  2. New USA formaldehyde restrictions came into play in December 2017 with new standards relating to emissions…be aware!
  3. The USA-led Music Instrument Passport (for musicians) does not appear to have been widely adopted around the world (a 3 year passport costs $100 instead of $75 per visit).
  4. A Global Timber Forum is planned to be set up in UK and we are liaising with it.
  5. The US authorities have started to create “Master Files” to help frequent user US companies with applications that involve both finished and unfinished products.
  6. Sorry to say that there were no “glimmers of hope” to help companies using tiny amounts of rosewood in instruments (we will keep trying).


Nothing especially new emerged apart from the hope that India and Indonesia will swiftly find a resolution to their reservation stance.

It was marginally consoling to speak to so many MI colleagues from around the world and to know that we are all facing the same issues!

We will continue to work with you and the authorities to find a way through the issues so many of you are facing.

Paul Mc