Wood business says no to illegal timber

13:24 | 12/01/2019 Trade

(VEN) - Domestic wood companies will say “no” to illegal timber when the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Vietnam and the EU on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) takes effect. Nguyen Ton Quyen, Secretary General of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES), spoke about the agreement with Vietnam Economic News’ Hanh Nguyen.

wood business says no to illegal timber
Minimizing risks from timber imports is crucial

Could you share the implementation roadmap for the VPA/FLEGT between Vietnam and the EU?

Following the signing of the agreement on October 19, 2018, 28 EU member states will submit it to their national parliaments for ratification. For Vietnam’s part, after the government ratifies the VPA, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) will coordinate with other ministries and sectors to compile a draft degree guiding its implementation. The agreement is expected to take effect in 2021.

Timber supplies from Africa and Cambodia remain a public concern. What is your opinion about these supply sources? Its geographic proximity offers Cambodia favorable conditions to export timber to Vietnam. Since the Lao government banned the export of natural and round timber to Vietnam, Cambodian natural timber has swamped the Vietnamese market, adversely affecting the image of domestic wood products.

VIFORES has reported this situation to the government and the MARD. The association has also rejected international organizations’ accusations that Vietnam provided inaccurate data about timber imports from Cambodia.

Africa is unlike Cambodia. Some African countries are involved in VPAs on FLEGT, and many are signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). When they sell timber, these countries will show two licenses, one from CITES, and the other from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Therefore, Vietnamese companies can feel secure of the legal origin of timber imports from these countries.

However, VIFORES has warned domestic companies of the uncertified legality of timber imports from African countries via intermediaries.

Do you have any recommendations for better control of timber supplies from Cambodia?

To tighten control over Cambodian timber in the Vietnamese market, we have proposed two solutions: 1) increase import taxes; and 2) pause imports.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade recently issued Circular 44/2018/TT-BCT temporarily suspending the import of round and sawn timber (groups HS 44.03 and 44.07 in the lists of Vietnamese imports and exports attached to Circular 65/2017/TT-BTC dated June 27, 2017 of the Ministry of Finance) from Lao and Cambodian natural forests for re-export to third countries. The pause is expected to benefit both Vietnam and Cambodia. In the first 10 months of 2018, the value of timber imports from Cambodia decreased by 53.2 percent.

Hanh Nguyen