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Timber industry needs to have stricter controls

Update: June, 19/2014 - 09:34
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked localities nationwide to tighten management over timber processing establishments. — Photo baohatinh

HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked localities nationwide to tighten management over timber processing establishments.

The deputy minister and head of General Department of Forestry, Ha Cong Tuan, said that the move aimed to help protect consumers' rights and ensure the legality of traded timber.

He said that previously, it was quite common to see authorities grant licences for timber processors to open workshops at the edge of forests.

"Taking advantage of the locations, many processors purchase and process illegally logged timber," he said.

Other timber processors, especially small ones, were found to operate without business licences or fail to show legal documents relating to the origin of the timber they used, Tuan said.

"The violations cause difficulties for authorised agencies involving in managing forestry products and Government could not collect proper taxes from the timber business," he said.

In its latest direction issued last week, the Agriculture Ministry asked People's Committees at cities and provinces to review timber processing activities.

They would stop granting licences for individuals and organisations to operate in areas which were not earmarked for timber processing.

Those who could not show evidence of using sustainable timber would not get the licence, Tuan said.

Last year, Viet Nam posted a $5.5-billion export turnover in timber products, having exported to more than 100 countries, with the EU as one of the leading export markets.

Viet Nam's timber export industry faced a number of challenges, including low added value due to the high woodchip export ratio, indirect exports through the EU importers and non-trademarked products.

Complicated domestic timber flows and different timber sources [Vietnamese timber enterprises imported 40-50 per cent of raw materials] made it difficult to control illegal logging, making Viet Nam a high-risk exporter, he said.

The country is currently negotiating to sign the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade/ Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT) with the European Union this year to ensure the legality of Vietnamese timber before exporting to EU.

The FLEGT Action Plan, approved by the EU in 2003, came into effect in March 2013, as one of the EU's responses to international concerns about illegal logging and trading. — VNS

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