08:54 | 28/03/2016 Trade
(VEN) - Negotiations on the EU-Vietnam Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to promote the implementation of the EU’s Forest Legality Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Program are expected to finish later this year. The VPA/FLEGT could provide big opportunities for the Vietnamese wood sector to promote exports.
Wood exports will increase strongly after the VPA/FLEGT is signed Wood exports will increase strongly after the VPA/FLEGT is signed
The EU has huge potential for Vietnamese wood exports. However, timber and wood product exports to this market are subject to strict standards. The EU’s FLEGT action plan is an example. One of the most important contents of the action plan is signing VPAs with timber and wood product exporters to the EU.
“After it is signed, the VPA/FLEGT will help timber and wood product exporters to the EU avoid legal risks and promote the Vietnamese wood industry through increasing exports to European countries,” said Nguyen Ngoc Thang, Director of the project to support the VPA/FLEGT negotiation process in Vietnam, which is funded by the EU through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Vietnam Office.
Many experts shared the opinion that the signing of Vietnam’s VPA with the EU will increase the trust of customers from the US, Australia, and Japan - markets which apply similar regulations to the EU’s regulations on the legality of wood origin.
Vietnam currently has more than 3,500 wood businesses with about 300,000 employees. The signing of the VPA/FLEGT will lead to increases in wood product prices, benefiting Vietnamese wood businesses and promoting sustainable forest management.
However, through surveying some wood product exporters in Quang Nam Province, VEN reporters found that most of them remain unaware of the good effects the FLEGT program could provide in terms of production and trade. “Businesses encounter numerous difficulties in applying for licenses for each consignment and through each port, so they find their export activities delayed and face the risk of being fined or rejected by importers,” said Dang Cong Quang, Deputy Director of the Forest Products Export Joint Stock Company in Quang Nam.
In the process of negotiating and implementing VPAs on the implementation of the FLEGT program, the EU attaches great importance to the role and participation of local social organizations in supervising the implementation of the VPAs. Therefore, domestic organizations and many nongovernmental organizations have promoted community consultation to explain the policies to local people, communities and businesses, creating a common voice between all parties concerned.
A representative of WWF Vietnam said that WWF Vietnam had actively assisted the Vietnam Administration of Forestry in VPA/FLEGT negotiations. If parties concerned in Vietnam reach a consensus on the definition of the legality of wood origin later this year, WWF Vietnam will build a pilot chain of custody that is compatible with FLEGT requirements and legality verification systems for 15 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and build capacity in this field for about 200 SMEs.