Vietnam expected to conclude EU FLEGT negotiations by year end

Members of community forest in Java, Indonesia, moving logsImage credit: EU FLEGT Facility. 

Vietnam is expected to conclude its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiations with the European Union by the end of this year, according to the Viet Nam News.

A signing ceremony is expected in mid-November and the agreement is set to be inked later this year, said Nguyễn Văn Hà, Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNAF) deputy director and head of the Vietnamese negotiating team.

However much work is still needed as it is not easy to change old habits of forest planting and wood processing, added Ambassador Bruno Angelet, head of the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam at a meeting with the VNAF last Friday.

As FLEGT certification is compliant with the European Union Timber Regulation, exporters who carry this FLEGT certifications are automatically exempted from further checks, expanding exporters’ opportunities in the EU.

Vietnam’s talks started in November 2010 and a mechanism, Timber Legality Assurance System of Vietnam (VNTLAS), established to grant certifications for wood shipments to the EU. 

So far 16 technical negotiation rounds and eight high-level talks have been concluded.

Currently, six countries— Indonesia, Liberia, Congo, Ghana, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic—have VPA agreements with the EU. Three others are still in negotiations.

In September, Indonesia concluded its VPA negotiations and will begin issuing FLEGT certifications to wood products shipped to the EU from November 15, the first country in the world to do so.