Laos Prepares for Face-to-face EU FLEGT, VPA Negotiations


The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) technical working group yesterday met in Vientiane to discuss finalised key parts of the draft timber definitions to be submitted to the European Union (EU) by the end of this month.

The submission is crucial preparation for the first face-to-face negotiations between the government of Laos and the EU on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), scheduled for late February next year.

“The proper definition of legal timber is very crucial towards improving sustainable forest management and good governance in Laos, as it helps to enhance understanding among relevant government staff and the private sector in the forestry and timber industry, especially when it comes to forest inspection practices,” Forest Inspection Department’s Director General, Mr Khamphout Phandanouvong said.

“The timber legality definition allows us to identify gaps, redress and improve areas of legislation and regulation that are difficult to implement, impractical or confusing,” he added.

Once the legal definition has been developed through a multi-stakeholder platform and discussion with the EU, a field test of the legality definition is conducted.

The test allows an additional review of the definition to ensure applicability in the field.

During the workshop, participants also had a chance to discuss the scope of the FLEGT VPA negotiation regarding product, market destination and timber sources.

A presentation of the supply chain control and verification procedures highlighted the importance in the FLEGT VPA process.

The first drafts of Timber Legality Definition on wood processing and trading and conversion areas were also discussed during the workshop.

Laos has started to negotiate such an agreement with the EU with assistance from the German Development Cooperation Project, which is supported by the Lao-EU FLEGT Process (proFLEGT), implemented by GIZ.

ProFLEGT is a joint initiative of the Lao government and German Development Cooperation, and is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry through the FLEGT Standing Office under the supervision of the Department of Forest Inspection, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as well as other government agencies, civil society organisations, academia and timber processing industry.

During the initial stage of the Lao EU-FLEGT process, three pilot provinces have been selected, which are Xayaboury, Khammuan and Attapeu.

In this regard, WWF is working with the Department of Forestry Inspection to implement its FLEGT process in the two pilot provinces, Khammuan and Attapeu.

WWF takes a solution-oriented, integrated and local to global approach that seeks synergies with relevant stakeholders to influence drivers of deforestation and degradation.


Source: Vientiane Times