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Wood exporters urged to get legal

Update: October, 15/2015 - 08:53
Viet Nam's rubberwood products are exported to mainly Japan, China, and Korea. — Photo tuoitre.vn
HCM CITY (VNS)  — Vietnamese exporters should ensure that the timber they are exporting is legal and obtain certificates of origin for the strict EU market, experts suggested at a seminar held yesterday in HCM City.

Michael K. Jakobsen, customer relations manager of NEPCon, a non-profit organisation providing solutions for safeguarding natural resources, said that certification played a key role in mitigating risk of illegal harvesting of wood.

In EU, there are many certificate requirements for timber.

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came into force in March 2013, requires all EU member states to have a competent authority to ensure that all companies comply with three core requirements: that operators exercise appropriate due diligence in their sourcing of timber; that they avoid "first placing" illegal timber and products on the European market; and that subsequent traders keep records to ensure that supply chains within the EU can be traced if necessary.

"Understand the requirements under which your customers operate, such as the EUTR. This will enable you to have a qualified discussion with your customers," Jakobsen said.

Although most certification systems for forest products include legality of harvest among their criteria, these are voluntary, private sector systems. Thus, the accuracy cannot be readily determined by the government.

Nevertheless, such certification systems may provide information useful to manufacturers and importers in their efforts to exercise due diligence regarding sources and species of timber.

Jakobsen pointed out the risk of legal violations in connection with forest management and harvesting operations.

The others include a risk of legal violation during trade and transport of the material throughout the supply chain, and risk of illegal materials mixed in through the supply chain.

He suggested that businesses show customers that they are doing due diligence, including knowing their supply chain and evaluating the risk among their suppliers and mitigating the risk.

The businesses should also provide an independent third party check of their system. It can help to convince their customers that you are a low-risk supplier.

Tran Thi Thuy Hoa, office manager of Viet Nam Rubber Association, said in order to promote exporting rubber wood to large foreign markets, businesses should focus on demonstrating its legal source.

Farmers should quickly obtain the land-ownership rights to make sure their plantations are legal, while businesses need to declare and certify the origin of their export products.

Viet Nam's rubberwood products are exported to mainly Japan, China, and Korea. However, if exporters increase exports to the EU market, they can sell at prices higher than those in other markets.

The biggest problems of the rubberwood industry are the decline in prices and risks that are equal to or below cost. Rubberwood supply in Viet Nam also exceeds demand.

The total volume of rubberwood in the market is estimated to be 9 million cu.m round wood, or 1.4 million cu.m preliminary processed wood per year.— VNS

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