|The signing ceremony of the VPA-FLEGT between Vietnam and the EU on the margins of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Brussels.
The agreement aims to tighten controls on forest governance, fight illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU, and other markets.
Signatories included Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini.
In her remarks, Federica Mogherini highlighted the signing of the deal as the start of an important partnership through which Vietnam and the EU will work together to address illegal logging and its harmful effects.
The EU welcomes the progress Vietnam has made in preparing to implement the VPA and initial steps in strengthening controls of the timber it imports. However, more needs to be done. Controlling the legality of imports will be critical to full implementation of the VPA and ensuring that Vietnam’s exports of timber and timber products to the EU come from legal sources. The EU will maintain close contact with Vietnam and support their efforts in delivering results on the ground, she said.
Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said Vietnam has strong and developing wood processing industry with a significant role in the global market, noting that leaders, the business community and non-governmental organisations of Vietnam voice their support for the VPA and continue to become involved in policy reform processes in the forest sector.
Vietnam ensures that illegal logged timber is not allowed to enter the Vietnamese market, Cuong said, adding that the country has also set up a Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS) which ensures that wood and timber products of Vietnam in the EU have legal origins.
VPA commitments have been included in the Vietnam Forestry Law which will become effective on January 1, 2019. The new law prohibits the import of illegal produced timber to Vietnam. Vietnam has prepared plans for the implementation of VPA with the involvement of many parties, he said.
An EU-Vietnam Joint Implementation Committee will oversee how the provisions of the Agreement are put into practice.