Illustration photo. (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnamese firms have been urged to prepare for the impending Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).

The agreement is expected to generate significant opportunities for the expansion of wooden product exports to European markets.

The VPA/FLEGT is expected to conclude negotiations and be signed at the end of this year.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Thang, Manager of the World Wildlife Fund Vietnam's project for supporting VPA negotiations, was quoted by Cong Thuong newspaper as saying that the VPA/FLEGT would help eliminate legal risks for wooden export firms selling to European markets while promoting the domestic wood industry of more than 3,500 firms and 300,000 labourers.

The signing of the VPA with the European Union – a very strict market with high requirements for timber and wood products – will also enhance the trust of Vietnam's other major partners that have similar requirements for wood origins, such as the United States, Australia and Japan, experts said.

Still, many firms are not sufficiently aware of the impact the VPA/FLEGT will have on their operations and have not made adequate preparations.

The VPA/FLEGT requires participating firms' operations to comply with FLEGT legal requirements.

Vietnam's wood and wooden product exports were expected to expand by 12-15 percent in 2016 from 6.9 billion USD last year, according to the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City.

Vietnam was the fourth largest wood exporter in the world, trailing after China, Germany and Italy.-VNA