Việt Nam earned US$5.76 billion from wood and wooden products exports in the first 10 months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 0.8 per cent, with the US, Japan, and EU being the largest importers. — Photo vfpress.vn
HCM CITY — Once the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) comes into force, there will be opportunities for Việt Nam to export more wooden products to Europe and other new markets as well as get higher prices, according to the EU Delegation to Việt Nam.
Speaking at a workshop in HCM City yesterday, Nguyễn Tố Uyên of the delegation said the forest pact would increase the competitiveness of Vietnamese timber products compared to those from countries that did not have much control over the forestry sector.
A VPA is a voluntary trade agreement between the EU and countries making wooden products to promote trade in legal timber and help ensure only legally harvested timber is imported into the EU from these countries.
The EU and Việt Nam finished negotiating a VPA on November 18 and an agreement is expected to be signed in early 2017.
Nguyễn Mạnh Dũng of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said under the agreement Viêt Nam would create a timber legality assurance system (TLAS) in line with the country’s situation and the EU’s requirements for identifying the origin of timber.
Full operation of the TLAS would significantly contribute to identifying the origin of Vietnamese timber products exported to the EU and other markets, he said.
Once a VPA is fully implemented, the country will issue FLEGT licences for exports of wood products to document that they meet all relevant local laws. If a licence is in place, EU companies do not have to conduct any due diligence.
To help Vietnamese firms understand about the forestry pact, the Nature Economy and People Connected (NepCon), an international non-profit organisation, and the Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification, have implemented a project called “Increasing capacity of civil society organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises to implement FLEGT requirements.”
Co-funded by the EU and NepCon, the project was launched in March 2014.
Reviewing the performance of the project in the past years, Ann Weddle, auditor and project manager of NepCon, said, “We have developed a toolkit to help Vietnamese companies comply with relevant requirements and communicated this to European buyers.”
The toolkit contains 18 tools, including guidance documents, checklists and templates.
Besides, training courses have been held to show Vietnamese companies and organisations how to use the toolkit.
National Forestry Risk Profiles have been created for Việt Nam and the five main countries it imports timber from.
This would help Vietnamese timber companies assess the risks when importing timber from these countries, Weddle said.
Huỳnh Văn Cường, director of Ngân Đại Sơn, an SME specialising in children’s furniture in Đồng Nai Province, said, “The toolkit provided by the project is very useful and helps enterprises evaluate and manage timber sources.”
Lê Võ Thanh Bình of the Việt Nam Rubber Group said the company’s subsidiaries were aware of the need to obtain certificates for producing and exporting timber products.
Việt Nam earned US$5.76 billion from wood and wooden products exports in the first 10 months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 0.8 per cent, with the US, Japan, and EU being the largest importers. — VNS