Vietnam and the EU have reached an agreement on timber export and domestic market control at the sixth Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation session held in Hanoi from 12 to 13 of April 2016. A VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-producing country outside the EU. Vietnam is among the world’s top five timber product exporters and EU exports make up approximately 10% of Vietnam’s total exports.
The two parties made progress in clarifying important elements of the VPA. Vietnam’s timber legality assurance system will cover all exports including those to the EU and other countries, as well as domestic market trade. The two parties have also reached a consensus on the FLEGT licensing scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU.
Vietnam and the EU advanced on the issue of verification of timber imports into Vietnam. Vietnam is a major timber processor in Southeast Asia and sources up to half its timber from other countries. The two parties discussed different approaches to demonstrate the legal origin of timber imported in Vietnam including engagement with importers to exercise due diligence. The two parties highlighted the importance of consulting with stakeholders in the EU and in Vietnam to pave the way for the conclusion of the Agreement.
Vietnam and the EU plan to hold the next VPA negotiation session in Brussels in July 2016. The two parties have affirmed their commitment to conclude the VPA negotiations by the end of 2016. Vietnam and the EU entered into VPA negotiations in 2010.