Boosting sustainable exports of forest products

Friday, 2019-05-17 15:40:29
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Vietnam’s forest products processing and exports have witnessed strong growth with the consumption market expanded to more than 120 countries worldwide. (Illustrative image)
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NDO – The Vietnam-European Union Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) will officially come into force on June 1, 2019, which is an important milestone in the cooperation between Vietnam and the EU to address the illegal exploitation and trading of forestryproducts.

To implement this agreement, Vietnam is developing and operating Vietnam’s timber legality assurance system (VNTLAS), improving its legal framework, andpromoting the management of origin of forestry products in production and business activities.

The country is also strictly prohibiting the import, export, logging, processing and trading of illegal forestryproducts in accordance with Vietnamese and international laws.

Furthermore, Vietnam is continuing to improve the legal documents aligned with its commitments, including the building of a decree regulating VNTLAS provisions. The decree is scheduled to be submitted to the Government for promulgation by the end of 2019.

The Government of Vietnam has paid great attention to ensuring sustainable forest management for many years,demonstrated in the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy in the 2006-2020 period as approved by the Prime Minister in 2007.

The strategy intends to establish, develop and sustainably use 16.2 million ha of forest land by 2020 and have at least 30% of production forest area (equivalent to two million ha of forest) to be certified for sustainable forest management.

Vietnam’s forestry products processing and exports have witnessed strong growth with the consumption market expanded to more than 120 countries worldwide and increasing the export turnover of wood and forestryproducts. The country reported US$9.38 billion worth of forestry products exports in 2018, exceeding the target of US$7.8 billion set in the Forestry Development Strategy for the 2006-2020 period.

However, the Vietnamese forestry processing and export industry is facing big challenges. Many import markets of Vietnamese wood and wooden products require very highstandards of origin of materials in addition to stricterinternational standards for sustainable forest management. This has urged Vietnamese wood manufacturers and exporters to ensure the use of legal materials withsustainable forest management certification to be eligible for export to major markets.

In fact, there are only 237,000 ha of forest in 23 provinces across the country achieving the certification of sustainable forest management, which is quite modest compared to the set target.

Therefore, state management agencies should urgently complete policies to effectively operate the national forest certification and sustainable forest management systemsapplied for the entire forest area in order to improve the value of forestry products.

It is also necessary to boost the coordination between domestic and international organisations, particularly forest owners and forestry production enterprises to operate the national forest certification system in order to promote Vietnam’s prestige in the international arena, contributing to the stable exports and development of the forestry industry.