A wooden furniture factory in Vietnam. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The European Union (EU), which makes up about one fourth of the world consumption, is now the fourth largest importer of Vietnam’s timber and wood products after US, Japan and China.

Nguyen Ton Quyen, Vice President of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFORES), made the statement at a workshop on Vietnam-EU trade in timber and wood products in Hanoi on December 18.

The event was jointly held by VIFORES, the Forest Products Association of Binh Dinh (FPA Binh Dinh), the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA) and US-based non-profit Forest Trends.

The EU is the second largest buyer of Vietnam in terms of wood furniture listed under HS codes 94, mostly importing wooden seats, outdoor furniture, and furniture for office and bedrooms from the partner.

The three main European destinations for Vietnam’s wood product are the UK, Germany and France, together accounting for two thirds of the exporter’s timber and wood product sales in the EU.

The EU is also one of Vietnam’s key timber suppliers. Last year, the bloc shipped to Vietnam 172 million USD worth of timber, or one fourth of Vietnam’s exports.

Vietnam is negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU within the framework of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Once the agreement is signed, the Vietnamese Government will put forth closer mechanisms to ensure the legality of the country’s wood products exported to the EU.

To Xuan Phuc from the Forest Trends said the country’s deeper integration would not only benefit local timber producers in many ways but also pose risks to them, including the legal origin of their material wood.

He suggested that the Government and wood associations should play an important role in reducing such risks and call on wood businesses to stop trading timber of unclear origin.

In the first eight months of this year, Vietnam’s timber and wood product exports to the EU fetched 442 million USD while its timber imports from the bloc was 111 million USD.-VNA