Once Lao PDR signs a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU), it will bring a number of benefits to the country, bettering its forest governance and management.
The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-producing country outside the EU.
The purpose of the VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreement also helps timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector.
The Lao PDR is currently in negotiation with the EU which is expected to begin the first face-to-face negotiation on the forthcoming October.
If Laos becomes a VPA partner country, it will help the Lao wood processing industry sector get an easier access to the EU market and other overseas timber markets.
The agreement will also promote and attract both foreign and domestic investment in the field of wood processing industry, promote labour skills development, standardization of production, designing, and marketing for timber business in the country.
The VPA will increase the value addition of Lao export wood products, help turn timber business competitive environment into formal and rule-based management system, promote the effective forest and timber trade management, ensure the government collection of revenues, especially taxes and duties charged on exported and traded timber products.
In addition, the agreement will also help Laos combat illegal timber trade and exploitation.