The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade/Voluntary Partnerships Agreement (FLEGT/VPA) now under negotiation between Vietnam and the EU will not affect Vietnamese wood exporters and forest owners, according to an official from the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VAF).

Speaking at an April 18 consultation seminar on the pending agreement, Nguyen Tuong Van, Deputy Director of VAF’s Department of Science, Technology and International Cooperation made clear that the content of the agreement does not surpass the EU Timber Regulations that took effect last March. Therefore, the FLEGT/VPA will not raise production costs while helping businesses raise their governance capacity.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan, the EU has agreed that the FLEGT/VPA is built on the basis of Vietnam’s existing laws, so no additional administrative procedures will arise for domestic exporters. He added that most domestic wood processors, particularly those selling to the EU market, have well abided to relevant policies and laws in this aspect.

Regarding the progress of the FLEGT/VPA negotiations, Van from the VAF said the two sides have finished negotiations on most technique-related appendices and reach basic agreement on the appendices on the list of commodities covered by the deal, and necessary conditions for Vietnamese exporters to gain a FLEGT certificate.

She added that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Management Authority of Vietnam is intended to be in charge of granting the FLEGT certificate.

The two sides hope to sign the agreement in October this year. It is expected to provide a legal framework and regulations on wood exports to the EU, thus maintaining Vietnam’s wood and wooden products foothold in EU markets and expanding to other markets./.