Agreement helps Vietnam boost timber exports to EU hinh anh 1Timber processing for exports (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have basically concluded the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) after nearly six years of negotiations.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella co-chaired a press conference in Hanoi on November 18 to announce the agreement.

The VPA means to ensure the legal export of all timber products and help the Vietnamese wood sector obtain sustainable development and expand foreign markets, especially the EU.

It also aims to prevent illegal logging and strengthen forest governance and promote trade in legally produced timber.

Under the agreement, Vietnam will build and operate a timber legality assurance system (VNTLAS) in line with the country’s situation and the EU's requirements on tracing the origin of legal timber in the supply chain.

Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the full operation of the VNTLAS will signficantly contribute to ensuring the origin of Vietnamese legal timber export to the EU and other markets.

The FLEGT license will allow Vietnamese businesses to export wood products to the union without taking accountability on the origin of legal timber products, he added.

Commissioner Karmenu Vella suggested focusing on the implementation of the agreement to achieve social, environmental and economic targets.

The key commitments are establishing a strong and reliable system which is involved by parties concerned and effective mechanisms to detect any violations and ensure law enforcement, he said.

The EU will strictly monitor Vietnam ’s realisation of the VPA and pledged to support the country’s efforts in this field, he confirmed.

Vietnam and the EU began negotiations on the VPA/FLEGT in October 2010. The country conducted 10 high-level and 18 technical negotiating sessions before reaching a conclusion.-VNA