Vietnam and all timber-exporting countries implementing / negotiating VPAs are strengthening the market position of verified legal timber products.
The EU is an important export market for all VPA countries, including Vietnam, in addition to other markets such as the US, China, Japan and South Korea. As the second Asian country to undergo VPA negotiations after Indonesia, Vietnam has a particular significance given its stance on the global timber market and a main hub for processing of timber.
Benefits of FLEGT-licensing extend further than the simple trade link and relationship between the VPA timber-exporting country and Europe.
“It is notable that, in addition to affecting the export of wood products into the EU market, the signing and implementation of the VPA/ FLEGT Agreement will help Vietnam’s wood industry improve its reputation and gain trust in other markets like America and Japan”, Mr. Ngo Sy Hoai, Vice Chairman and General of Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association expresses.
Vietnam began negotiation their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Europe, a cornerstone of the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in 2010. This VPA entered force in June 2019, with regulations needed to implement the country’s timber legality assurance system achievable before a FLEGT-license can be granted.
Nguyen Tuong Van, Head of the Vietnam FLEGT office, announced following a meeting in March with representatives of civil society organisations, private sector, research bodies and development partners, “It [Vietnam’s Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS) is then expected to be ready by the end of 2020 so Vietnam can issue FLEGT licences” (FLEGT IMM). It is now expected that this will be in place early 2021 and first Vietnamese FLEGT-licensed timber and timber products to be granted at the end of 2021 or by early 2022.
Vietnam’s timber and wood product exports to the EU have increased from €691 million in 2014 to €862 million in 2018 (IMM Data Dashboard).
“This agreement is an important milestone in our relations with Vietnam and in our fight against illegal logging and deforestation. Our commitment to the environment is not only a slogan, but a reality”, Sebastian Kurn – federal chancellor of the Republic of Austria and president of the Council.
Once VPAs are fully integrated, these systems are robust and credible, controlling the supply chain, verifying legal compliance and are independently audited. Operators in the EU, trading in FLEGT-licensed timber or timber products, do not need to undertake further due diligence, which can be time-consuming and costly. Therefore, products with a FLEGT-license are awarded a ‘green lane’ into Europe under the EU Timber Regulation.
Vietnam and all timber-exporting countries implementing / negotiations VPAs are strengthening the market position of verified legal timber products to the EU and elsewhere, driving the demand for legal timber and abolishing the illegal timber trade. Benefits from Vietnam’s VPA have already emerged including: consolidation of legislation and regulations; clarification of forest land use rights; management and protection of domestic natural forests; simplification and streamlining of regulations; and stakeholder consultations/ civil society engagement.
We look forward to the continued journey of Vietnam’s VPA and all other VPA countries, joining Indonesia in FLEGT-licensing to the EU and UK.
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