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WWF, Vnforest and PanNature Co-Start a Project to Support Vietnam – EU Negotiation on Legal Timber Havesting and Trade

Hanoi – 21 Aug 2014, Viet Nam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) – Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)  and People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) co-launch the project of Common Assess to Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process in Vietnam and Laos to support the Government of Vietnam in the  negotiation and implementation of the VPA with the European Union (EU) in the framework of the initiative on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) contributing to the  sustainable development of the national industry of timber processing & export and in line with international regulations.

This EU funded project assists the government, the small and medium enterprises of timber processing (SMEs), civil society organisations (CSOs) and the communities living near the forests in some provinces neighbouring with Laos to understand and comply with the EU’s timber regulation that came in force since the 3rd March 2013. Under this regulation, all timber products exported to the EU market must be proved to be legal.

Photo: PanNature
Photo: PanNature

Vietnam currently imports approximately 40% of raw materials from various countries for the processing and export purpose. The control of imported timber, which ensures that legitimate timber is legally harvested under the laws of the exporting country, especially in neighbor countries such as Laos and Cambodia, is a key element in the legal timber assurance system in Vietnam. The project contains a component of strengthening policy dialogues with Laos and enhancing the control measures from the timber harvesting via transportation to trade across the border. They are all necessary steps to be taken in the context of these countries have been negotiating the VPA and have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Cooperation on Forestry.

“Vietnam currently has millions of farmers engaging in planting of material forests, and more than 3,500 small and medium processing and exporting enterprises. To avoid complicated procedures of declaring the timber origin for Vietnam furniture exported to EU, Vietnam Government must commit to establish and operate the FLEGT licensing, timber legality verification and monitoring system effectively and credibly,” said Nguyen Ba Ngai, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry.

“The project is especially important when Vietnam and EU now are on the final stage of VPA negotiations which will accomplish by the end of this year,” he emphasised.

Recently, the government of Vietnam has paid much attention to the communication and consultation of stakeholders on the agreement. However, this process has not achieved the desired results due to the lack of resources.

“NGOs, CBOs and local communities are recognised as important stakeholders in the VPA/FLEGT processes between EU and their partner countries. PanNature, as one of founding members of the VNGO-FLEGT Network, sees the increasing role of these stakeholders in participation and contribution to the negotiation and implementation of VPA/FLEGT and forest governance in Vietnam. PanNature believes that this project will provide meaningful outputs and lessons on the effective engagement of local communities into the implementation and monitoring of forest law enforcement, governance and trade, hence contribute to the improvement of forestry policies of Vietnam,” said Nguyen Viet Dung, Deputy Director of PanNature.

“By this project, WWF will promote the full participation of stakeholders in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the VPA. It helps to ensure the to-be-signed Agreement will be effective, feasible and consistent with the Agreement’s clauses on transparency, balance, sustainability and social responsibility”, Le Cong Uan, Manager of FLEGT Project, WWF-Vietnam said.

The VPA/FLEGT is the trade agreement between the Government of Vietnam and the EU to tackle the obstacles in the production and export of timber products to EU market.

Vietnam initiated the process of VPA negotiation since 2010. Up to now, the basic content, including Timber legality definition framework, supply chain, Timber legality assurance system, FLEGT licensing system, independent monitoring and evaluation, has been agreed.

The project duration is 4 years, from 2014 to 2018, with location of Vietnam and Laos PDR, attract the participation of various stakeholders ranging from forest-dependent communities, civil society groups, timber processing enterprises and government agencies.

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