Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A European Parliament (EP) delegation is in Hà Nội to prepare for the ratification of a bilateral agreement on forestry that would promote trade in verified legal timber products from Việt Nam to the EU and other markets.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường chaired the meeting with the EP Vice President Heidi Hautala yesterday, saying that the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade between Việt Nam and the EU offers a chance for the Southeast Asian nation to restructure the sector towards a transparent production chain, from materials to processing and trading, Cường stressed.
Việt Nam always pays close attention to forestry development, he said, adding that currently, the country has 14 million hectares of forests, with forest coverage reaching 41.65 per cent – a high rate both regionally and globally.
The country is building up its forestry economy with the participation of some 4,500 enterprises. Last year, the sector enjoyed an export turnover of over US$9 billion, he said.
However, Cường said the sector is still facing several weaknesses, including low productivity, small number of enterprises participating in the forestry chain, and the relatively small area of forests that have received Forest Stewardship Council management certificates.
Heidi Hautala said EU consumers are paying greater attention to the origin of products. Therefore, the responsibility and role of private enterprises are becoming more and more important.
The forestry agreement with Việt Nam is the second agreement the EU has signed in Asia, following a pact with Indonesia, she stated, adding that this is an “important building block in the EU’s wider strategy to promote biodiversity and sustainable development in Asia and to fight illegal logging and associated trade.”
She said the agreement will encourage transparency and have pervasive effects on the production chain with the EU and nations around the world as the EU has signed similar agreements with 16 other countries.
“Việt Nam should make all efforts to ensure that the due diligence obligations are not reduced to a tick the box exercise,” Heidi said.
The EU is working to soon ratify the agreement with Việt Nam, she added.
At the meeting, Minister Cường spoke highly of the cooperation developments between Việt Nam and the EU, particularly in terms of investment.
In the field of sustainable development, the EU is considered Việt Nam top development partner with the two main pillars of maritime economy and forest development.
The EU issued a “yellow card” warning for Việt Nam in 2017 for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; along with nine recommendations to help the country develop more sustainable fisheries.
Cường said after the EU issued the nine recommendations, Việt Nam was quick to revise and consolidate its institutions and laws, including the new Law on Fisheries, which has incorporated the nine recommendations. — VNS