Vietnam can play crucial role in protecting world’s rainforests, says Global Witness
Global Witness says Vietnam’s recently-signed Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union can and must prevent the country from ‘becoming a new global timber laundering hub.’ Instead, the Agreement can ensure that Vietnam plays ‘a crucial role’ in protecting the world’s threatened rainforests.
In a blog post, Global Witness notes that Vietnam is becoming an increasingly important destination for tropical timber known to be at high risk of having been illegally harvested. Its imports from Africa increased by over 40% from 2016 to 2017, with much of this timber coming from countries with weak governance and widespread risks of illegality.
In 2017, for example, the country overtook China as the main market for wood from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Vietnam took 74% of timber harvested by the main logging company there, one that Global Witness says is ‘responsible for widespread illegal logging’.
Vietnam’s current lack of effective import controls makes it difficult for the country to prevent illegally-harvest wood from entering. But that can all change as Vietnam implements and enforces its Voluntary Partnership Agreement, which includes commitments to strengthen import controls.
Global Witness outlines factors that will be key to ensure that illegal timber does not enter the Vietnamese market, from an effective ban on illegal timber and adequate capacity among enforcement authorities, to effective complaints mechanisms and dissuasive sanctions.