EU, Vietnam move to ban illegal timber trade

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella and Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong on November 18th agreed in principle on a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) which improves forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU.

(VNF) - EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella and Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong on November 18th agreed in principle on a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) which improves forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU.

This will ensure that Vietnam’s exports of timber and timber products to the EU come from legal sources. After nearly six years of negotiation, the substance of the VPA has been agreed while some technical annexes still have to be finalized by the negotiators in the next few months. The EU and Vietnam expect to start the procedure to ratify the agreement in 2017.

“Vietnam and the EU today celebrate a milestone in their cooperation in the global fight to end illegal logging. Now we must focus on implementation to ensure that the VPA delivers on its social, environmental and economic goals. The EU will continue to support Vietnam’s efforts in this regard. We will be monitoring closely how the country works to implement the agreement”, said Mr. Karmenu Vella during a press meeting held in Hanoi.

EU, Vietnam move to ban illegal timber trade

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella and Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong. (Photo: EU delegation to Vietnam)

Vietnam is a major timber importing and processing country which has seen an exponential growth of its forest-based industries over the past decade, playing an important role in the global market. Illegal logging, however, remains a significant challenge. It deprives the government of revenue, threatens biopersity and creates conflict with forest communities.

To implement the VPA, Vietnam will develop a timber legality assurance system and other reforms outlined in the Agreement, including issuing specific legislation to ensure the legality of timber it imports for further processing.

Once fully implemented, the VPA is expected to boost confidence in the legality of timber products exported by Vietnam, and deliver wider social and environmental benefits.

Vietnam’s shipments of timber and timber products to the EU will be accompanied by a FLEGT license, demonstrating the legal origin of these products. This will also simplify work for timber traders, as FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the EU market. EU operators can therefore place FLEGT-licensed timber on the EU market without being subject to the due diligence provisions of the EU Timber Regulation.

EU, Vietnam move to ban illegal timber trade

This will ensure that Vietnam’s exports of timber and timber products to the EU come from legal sources. (Source: Internet)

Vietnam is one of 15 countries that are implementing or negotiating VPAs with the EU. On November 15th, Indonesia became the first VPA partner country to issue FLEGT licenses.

An EU-Vietnam Joint Implementation Committee will oversee implementation of the agreement once it enters into force. Until then, key elements of the interim arrangements have been agreed that will help transition to the implantation phase.

The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan is the EU's response to the problem of illegal logging. To address the issue at EU level, the European Commission adopted the FLEGT Action Plan. The Action Plan aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening the sustainability and legality of forest management, improving forest governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber. FLEGT contributes to efforts to limit climate change, conserve biopersity, protect rights and increase transparency./.

Minh Phuong

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