Communication is key, say ETTF members

ETTF member Federations view FLEGT licensed timber as a potentially major business and reputational benefit for the trade, but say communication will be vital for ‘smooth and credible market uptake'

Paul van den Heuvel, Managing Director, Netherlands Timber Trade Association (NTTA)

“The NTTA congratulates the Indonesian government, producers, suppliers and all other organizations and institutions involved with the first FLEGT-licensed timber brought to the European market. Tremendous efforts have been made by many people to bring us to this important outcome for the international timber sector. As one of the EU’s leading importers of tropical timber, including, of course, timber products from Indonesia, it’s a particularly significant development for the Netherlands. There was a need for this type of legislation and law enforcement in the international trade. But now, with Indonesia’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) fully implemented and licensed timber available, the Indonesian government and EU member states have clearly established their respective tasks and responsibilities to create an effective legality assurance system. We also hope that this Indonesian milestone will create added incentive for other FLEGT VPA countries to follow its example soon. We especially want to see it boost international trade in responsibly produced tropical timber as we appreciate it's use it or lose it.”

Bart de Turck, General Secretary, Belgian Federation of Wood Importers

“Our federation has strongly supported the FLEGT Regulation as an important instrument for assuring legality of wood purchased by members. Even in the preparatory phase it has had important impacts. But now the first FLEGT-licensed timber is en route to market, it is even clearer the initiative merited the time and investment that has gone into it from all stakeholders; producers, buyers and authorities in EU and VPA countries. The Belgian import trade is familiar with the FLEGT initiative, several of our importers having already participated in a programme to process trial licensed products from Indonesia. Obviously the due diligence benefit that FLEGT licensed timber enjoys under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) will have a positive market impact. Although, that being said, other traditional business considerations, such as quality, price and species, will remain important. But FLEGT licensed timber is the sort of thing consumers want; legally harvested timber without additional bother. They want to be certain of the provenance of the wood they purchase, but consider it the responsibility of the authorities to ensure and validate its legality. With FLEGT-licensed timber, both producer and EU consumer countries assume this responsibility. Importers who have actively participated in setting up an effective licensing system will continue to monitor its performance and development closely. But it should now lighten their legality assurance administrative burden.”

Dave Hopkins, Managing Director, UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF)

“The announcement from the EU/ Indonesian Joint Implementation Committee secretariat, giving a definitive date for the start of FLEGT licensing is the culmination of years of hard work and significant reform and should be applauded. It marks a new chapter in the fight against illegal logging and demonstrates reform can be achieved through a collaborative, deliberative process. The UK TTF has been at the forefront of the EU drive to timber market legality assurance. We have our own compulsory Responsible Procurement Process and advocated introduction of the EUTR. The UK has also been a strong supporter of Indonesia through its FLEGT VPA process. So we welcome the first FLEGT licences. And, whilst we recognise it’s still an early stage, it is a positive market development and one that will complement and work with existing mechanisms and frameworks. It is this complementary process that’s vital to ensuring FLEGT licensing's success and the continued assurance that forests have value. A buoyant, receptive timber trade is vital in ensuring this value is met and FLEGT licensing can be an core part of the process. For the timber trade as a whole a government-led and endorsed initiative can only be a progressive step and it’s one that our federation will continue to work alongside and support. The next step is a full communication programme with producers, importers and end-users so that all actors in the chain fully understand what FLEGT is, what it means, how it can impact on their business and how they can support it.”

Jakob Rygg Klaumann, Director, Danish Timber Trade Federation

“We’re pleased to see FLEGT licensing finally happen. We consider FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements as a cornerstone of the EU FLEGT Action Plan and the issue of first licences is a significant moment for the EU and wider global timber trade. We’re now planning a members’ meeting to discuss the issues for the trade with our national EUTR competent authority, which is also responsible for handling FLEGTlicensed timber. In the short run, we don’t think licensed timber will create a particular market advantage due to availability. But when more countries conclude VPAs and start licensing, more importers may consider sourcing from them due to the due diligence benefits. One way to encourage this could be recognition of FLEGT licences in national public procurement policies, requiring contractors and suppliers to procure otherwise legally and sustainably authenticated timber, or FLEGT-licensed products, similar to the UK government procurement policy approach. FLEGT licensing also has potential to benefit the trade’s reputation. But to achieve this, we must communicate the story; including that FLEGT VPAs are one of a number of policy instruments under the farreaching FLEGT Action Plan. Ideally, the first licensed timber will pave the way for other countries to speed up existing VPA implementation processes, or sign up to the initiative, perhaps including China. But that will also depend on how Indonesian licensed timber is received and promoted in the EU. And EU timber trade federations have a role in that process, helping licensed timber get a smooth, credible market uptake.”

Thomas Goebel, Chief Executive, GD Holz, Germany

“At GD Holz we see the start of FLEGT licensing as a significant moment. It was a long time coming and it is extremely important that at least one signatory country has achieved full implementation of a FLEGT VPA. It might give a new impetus to the whole process. I’m sure our trade’s reaction will be positive. Germany imports significant quantities of decking, window scantlings, and plywood from Indonesia. It will make life much easier for operators now that they have an officially recognised seal of legality, which at the same time will reduce their due diligence workload under the EUTR. GD Holz will communicate developments surrounding FLEGT licensing to members. We work closely and have a regular information exchange with BLE, the German Competent Authority for FLEGT licensing as well as the EUTR, and will pass on details of procedures around licence processing. As far as trade impact is concerned, FLEGT licensed timber will have easier market access. If two countries offer the same product and one is FLEGT-licensed and the other not, importers will tend to buy FLEGT licensed products as they’re risk-free and save time and money on due diligence. However, many operators have worked with suppliers for a long time and have due diligence structures in place, in which case they won’t necessarily switch to FLEGT licensed. But it will definitely play a role for companies that want to start importing new products.”