EU and Vietnam ratify agreement on illegal logging and trade in legal timber
The EU and Vietnam have ratified a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, to address illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber products. The Agreement will take effect on 1 June 2019.
The announcement came on 8 May at a joint press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam in the presence of Vice Minster of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan and EU Ambassador Bruno Angelet.
Implementation of the VPA will take several years, during which Vietnam will develop a timber legality assurance system to ensure that its timber and timber products come from legal sources and comply with relevant laws relating to importation, exportation, harvesting, processing and trade.
Implementation of the VPA will entail introducing systems and procedures to assure that businesses in Vietnam only use domestic timber or import timber that has been harvested and traded in accordance with relevant legislation in the country of harvest. This will prevent illegally-harvested timber, and businesses trading it, from taking part in supply chains regulated by the timber legality assurance system.
An EU-Vietnam Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) will oversee how the provisions of the Agreement are put into practice, while a Multi-Stakeholder Core Group will provide a means for Vietnamese civil society groups, academics and business associations to be involved in VPA implementation and provide input to the JIC.
Once the VPA has been fully implemented, and a joint assessment by the EU and Vietnam confirms this, the parties will set a date from which Vietnam will issue FLEGT licences to its EU-bound exports of verified legal timber products.
FLEGT-licensed products will automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the EU market.
Until FLEGT licensing starts, imports into the EU from Vietnam will continue to be subject to the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation aimed at ensuring that the risk of placing illegal products on the Union market is negligible.
In a press release issued on 8 May, the EU and Vietnam said: “In addition to the variety of social, economic and environmental benefits associated with better management of the forestry sector in Vietnam, FLEGT licensing will contribute to increase the credibility of Vietnam’s timber processing industry not only in the EU but also in other export markets, which are increasingly in demand for legal timber.”