Workers process timber at a factory of the Truong Son Industrial Wood JSC in Thanh Hoa province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s signing of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) with the European Union (EU) will help the country boost wood product exports to not only the EU but also many other markets, according to an official.

The remark was made by Nguyen Tuong Van, Deputy Director of the department for science-technology and international cooperation under the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, at a seminar in Hanoi on October 31.

Vietnam and the EU signed the FLEGT-VPA in Brussels, Belgium, on October 19.

Van noted the main markets of Vietnamese wood products are the EU, the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and Australia. All of them bar China have compulsory regulations on timber legality.

When Vietnam negotiated the deal, the US and many other countries had high hopes it would commit to building a legally-controlled wood market, she added.

To help the FLEGT-VPA prove effective immediately after it takes effect, Vietnam has created mechanisms and policies in conformity with the pact, according to Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Administration of Forestry Pham Van Dien.

Notably, the Forestry Law, which will come into effect on January 1, 2019, includes commitments under the FLEGT-VPA, he said, adding the country is completing more policies and documents institutionalising the deal.

Trieu Dang Khoa, deputy head of the forest management division in Tuyen Quang province, said locals and businesses have encountered difficulties in exporting wood without certificates. Therefore, the province has developed wood material zones meeting Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards.

Tuyen Quang has 19,700ha of forests with FSC certificates so far. It is striving to have another 4,500 – 5,000ha certified in 2019.

He said by planting forests with FSC certificates, local residents’ awareness has improved and they have better complied with regulations on forest production. While workers’ rights have been ensured, forest management has also been promoted.

Notably, wood products hailing from certified forests up to 30 percent more value than those from forests without FSC certificates. This encourages residents in forest planting and protection, Khoa noted.

Meanwhile, central Quang Tri province ranks first in the country with more than 25,000ha of certified forests.

Ha Sy Dong, member of the National Assembly’s Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs and deputy head of the NA deputies’ delegation of Quang Tri, said, “the most effective way to protect forests is to help locals realise they can benefit from forests.”

Another measure to promote proper production practices is encouraging consumers to use wood products with legal origins, said Vice Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Handicraft and Wood Industry Association Huynh Van Hanh.

The country earned more than 7.61 billion USD from exports of forestry products between January and October, 84 percent of the yearly target. Timber and wood products contributed 7.23 billion USD to the revenue.

Vietnam is one of the world’s leading wood processing and exporting countries with an export turnover of 8 billion USD in 2017. The figure is expected to hit 9 billion USD this year.

The nation sets a target of 20 billion USD in wood exports by 2025.-VNA