Vietnam: Private sector commits to developing timber industry

On 9 November 2020 in Ho Chi Minh City, representatives of multiple associations signed the Commitment on Sustainable and Responsible Development of Vietnam’s Wood Industry. This Commitment represents a comprehensive package of actions toward sustainable and responsible development of Vietnam’s wood industry sector.

The associations that signed the commitment were the Vietnam Timber & Forest Products Association and seven affiliated associations, including Binh Duong Furniture Association; Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Dong Nai; Forest Products Association of Binh Dinh; Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City; Thanh Hoa Timber and Forest Product Association; Vietnam Plywood Association and Vietnam Wood Chips Association.

Vietnam has emerged as a major wood and wood product producer and exporter, and the private timber sector players realise that timber legality assurance across the entire supply chain is vital to business development. In September 2021, the government issued Decree No.102 regulating the implementation of the Vietnam – EU Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).

With the signing of this Commitment, Vietnamese timber enterprises have demonstrated determination to support government efforts to sustain Vietnam’s position as a leading producer and exporter of wood products. The document signed commits the signatories to:

  • strictly comply with Decree No. 102/2020/ND-CP Decree (VNTLAS Decree) dated 1 September 2020 of the Government on Viet Nam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS), to assure all activities relating to importing, exporting, harvesting, transporting, buying, selling and processing of wood products are legally implemented
  • support the Government of Vietnam in enhancing inspection and supervision of imported wood, especially tropical wood imported from risky/non-active geographic areas set out in the VNTLAS Decree
  • request all members of the associations to strictly comply with the VNTLAS Decree; absolutely not to use risky wood for manufacturing wood products to meet demands from local and overseas markets
  • call on the corporate community to promote the use of locally planted wood and wood imported from low-risk sources; priority should be given to wood harvested in certified forests
  • promote the development of the domestic market in the direction of using legally sourced wood, enhance wood traceability, transition from risky imported wood to locally planted wood as well as that of wood products made of locally planted wood and low-risk imported wood
  • request the Government of Viet Nam to issue a public procurement policy towards completely eliminating risky wood species from public procurement, giving priority to products made of plantation wood
  • closely collaborate with related authorities to detect, prevent and avoid commercial fraud and investment circumvention in the wood industry sector, solicit transparent and responsible trade and investment operations to generate higher value for the wood sector
  • call on the business community and relevant stakeholders to join hands in building a sustainable forestry, enhancing the protection of natural forests, conserving biodiversity, encouraging the expansion of certified forest and supporting the development of improved livelihood for forest reliant communities

To proceed with the implementation of this Commitment, each association will develop a road-mapped Action Plan and allocate sufficient resources for its effective implementation. These Action plans will include the following components:

  1. Collaborate with State’s authorities to propose, counter-audit and implement related mechanisms and policies effectively;
  2. Advocate training and provide information for member businesses and encourage business associations, including links with tree growers and micro-business households from wood villages;
  3. Coordinate with media and relevant stakeholders for long-term communication campaigns aimed at improving images of the wood industry in production, trade, markets and products development, towards the development of a responsible and legal Vietnamese timber industry and a sustainable forestry sector.

The leaders of the committed associations have reiterated their statement: “WE SAY NO TO ILLEGAL TIMBER”.

As an immediate step in the implementation of the Commitment and a joint effort to overcome the severe damage caused by the natural disaster in the central Vietnam in October to November 2021, the signatories have decided to establish the Green Vietnam Fund.

Source: ITTO Tropical Timber Report