Workers at Cong Danh Company in Kon Tum Province make wooden furniture for export. Timber exports to the EU will have to meet stricter standards when the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnerships Agreement takes effect in 2013. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Le Lam
HA NOI — An EU delegation will be meeting Vietnamese officials in Ha Noi later this month to discuss a voluntary partnership agreement on sourcing wood products to curb illegal logging in the country.
Under the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnerships Agreement, Europe will only import timber and wood products that carry an accepted certificate of origin, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)'s International Co-operation Department.
Tran Kim Long, deputy director of the department, said the EU would clearly define what was meant by legal timber, licensing procedures, as well as the itineraries for future negotiations.
The two sides hope to sign a voluntary partnership agreement by the end of 2012, which should take effect in early 2013.
Companies exporting wood products to Europe must provide documents proving that the timber was legally logged. Documents must state either the timber's scientific name, the quantity being exported, the import value and the country of origin or carry an EU FLEGT certificate.
The Voluntary Partnerships Agreement is designed to curb the illegal timber trade.
Companies found selling products made from illegally sourced timber will face severe penalties, such as confiscation of the goods, a possible jail term for those involved and a heavy fine.
Long said Viet Nam would find it difficult to meet the demands of the agreement due to poor management in the timber industry and a lack of training among officials.
However, he said signing the agreement would boost the competitiveness of Viet Nam's wood products in long-term.
The EU is Viet Nam's second largest importer of wood products behind the US, accounting for roughly 30 per cent of the sector's total export earnings. The EU spent more than US$750 million on Vietnamese wood products in the last two years.
The country is on course to meet this year's export target of $3 billion, half of which will comprise wooden furniture, according to the Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association.
Meanwhile, exports to the US must comply with Lacey Act, a new timber origin tracking system that was implemented in April. — VNS