Vietnam and the EU concluded the second round of negotiations for a bilateral forestry law enforcement, governance and trade voluntary partnership agreement, in Hanoi on Nov. 25.

The Vietnamese delegation was led by Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy Head of the General Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, while the EU side was headed by Hugo Maria Schally, Head of Unit, Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission.

The two sides agreed on the main content and details on the timber legality definition and discussed the main points and principles on the product list to be included in the agreement and the tracking and monitoring system to ensure the legality of timber and timber products.

They also discussed and passed updates on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation roadmap, with the third round of negotiations scheduled for May, 2012 in Brussels .

The EU and Vietnam agreed to start negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement and Forestry Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) on August 18, 2010. The agreement is aimed at ensuring the legality of timber and timber products entering the EU market and will help maintain and expand the export of timber and timber products of Vietnamese enterprises to meet changing EU market requirements from March, 2013.

Speaking at a press briefing after the Hanoi negotiations, Tuan said the VPA and FLEGT are compatible with Vietnam ’s viewpoints on forest protection and sustainable development of a forestry economy.

Vietnam acknowledged the benefits of forests to mitigating climate change, and the Vietnamese Government has implemented measures to prevent forest reduction and increase forest plantations, Tuan added.

Over the past 20 years, Vietnam has increased forest coverage from 24 percent to 40 percent, he said.

In 2010, Vietnam exported about 11 million cu.m of timber and the country earned 30 percent of its export value of timber products from the EU and 40 percent from the US .

In 2011, Vietnam is expected to earned about 3.8 billion USD from the export of timber products./.