Made-in-Vietnam timber and wood products have faced obstacles in accessing foreign markets due to stricter foreign laws, which require timber products to be granted Forest Stewardship Council certification, said Hua Duc Nhi, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification proves wood products are from certified sources of origin throughout the supply chain, and guarantees that timber used has been supplied through responsibly harvested and verified sources.

Only legally harvested timber and wooden products are allowed to be imported to European markets, as regulated by the European Union's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.

The US Lacey Act also bans the import, export and transport of illegally-exploited forest products into the US market.

To meet the foreign export requirements, Vietnam has targeted that 30 percent of the total production forest area will meet FSC certification in 2020.

"However, to date, only 0.36 percent, equal to 16,500ha has been certified," Nhi said.

"No practical solutions to expand the certified area have been discussed nor implemented," he added.

According to the director of Sustainable Forest Management Institute, Nguyen Ngoc Lung, irresponsible and poor land management by local authorities and inconsistency in the Government's land policy have caused difficulties to forestry enterprises in obtaining certification.

Numerous forestry enterprises have not been provided certified land use rights, while many other forests have two concomitant owners, which makes it impossible to register for the certificate, Lung added.

Nhi also added that 80 percent of processed wood is imported, while there are few wood processing workshops in forested areas. To improve the effectiveness and sustainability of forest exploitation, investment in forest plantations is desperately needed.

Vietnamese forest products are now present in 120 foreign markets, with export turnover reaching 3.4 billion USD in 2010, according to Nguyen Thi Hoang Thuy, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Multilateral Trade Policy.

However, according to Nguyen Ton Quyen, vice president of Vietnam Association of Wood and Forest Products, 90 percent of the exported timber products are sold through middle men and most products are based on export designs leaving Vietnamese produced goods unrecognised abroad.

In addition, due to the excessive concentration on exports, the domestic market is now dominated by foreign enterprises cornering up to 80 percent of total domestic spending on wood products, said Tran Duc Sinh, General Director of the Vietnam Forestry Company .

Enterprises should be aware of the significance of using certified timber and wood products to widen export markets, while also paying attention to the domestic market, Nhi emphasised./.