A four-month halt to illegal logging by Chinese contractors in Burma’s northern forests has come to an end.

However, London-based Global Witness, which monitors logging in South-east Asia, believes some progress has been made in stopping Chinese contractors from illegally logging an estimated one million tonnes of timber a year from Burmese forests.

According to a Global Witness spokesperson, there are signs that the Burmese are treating the problem seriously – possibly because the illegal trade costs Burma an estimated US$250m a year in lost taxes.

Burma’s forestry minister was reported to have travelled to Beijing and Yunan province for talks on the illegal border trade and in January this year the forestry ministry acknowledged that 100,000m of teak wood was being illegally traded in northern Burma.

However, Global Witness believes the figure is at least eight times higher, but said a little bit of transparency is significant – a situation it hopes might continue to improve.