After nearly six years of negotiations, Vietnam and the European Union have agreed in principle on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU. The agreement between both is expected to ratify in 2017.
“Vietnam and the EU today celebrate a milestone in their cooperation in the global fight to end illegal logging,” said EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella. “Now we must focus on implementation to ensure that the VPA delivers on its social, environmental and economic goals.”
To implement the VPA, Vietnam will develop a timber legality assurance system and other reforms, including issuing legislation to ensure the legality of timber Vietnam imports for further processing.
The European Commission has published a memo describing the Vietnam-EU VPA and timber legality assurance system. When this system is operating as described in the VPA, it will ensure that Vietnam’s exports of timber and timber products to the EU will be from verified legal sources.
“A key commitment is to establish a credible and robust system, which involves all stakeholders and includes effective mechanisms to detect violations and ensure law enforcement,” said Vella. “The EU will continue to support Vietnam’s efforts in this regard. We will be monitoring closely how the country works to implement the agreement.”
The VPA is expected to boost confidence in the legality of timber products exported by Vietnam, and deliver wider social and environmental benefits.
An EU-Vietnam Joint Implementation Committee will oversee implementation of the VPA once it enters into force. Until then, key elements of the interim arrangements have been agreed that will help transition to the implementation phase.