Strictness rules timber exports

Friday, Dec 13, 2013 08:00

Timber being loaded at Xuan Hai Port in central Ha Tinh Province. Many markets are making import conditions more stringent. — VNA/VNS Photo Lan Xuan

HCM CITY (Biz Hub) — With the EU, US and Australia making import conditions more stringent, especially with regard to timber sources, Vietnamese exporters of timber products have to acquiesce to buyers' demand there, an industry meeting heard yesterday.

Under the LACEY Act in the US, all timber products must have certificates proving they were made from legally exploited wood without which they could be seized or destroyed.

The EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade that took effect last March has a similar requirement.

To Xuan Phuc, a policy analyst at global non-profit Forest Trends, told the 27th ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC) working committee meeting in HCM City: "Despite growing domestic supply due to rapid expansion of planted forests, the Vietnamese wood processing industry still relies heavily on imports, especially of timber."

Last year, the country import timber worth more than US$1.2 billion from many countries including Laos, China, the US, Malaysia, Thailand, Cameroon, New Zealand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Chile, making it difficult to guarantee their legality, he said.

Nguyen Chanh Phuong, general secretary of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of HCM City (HAWA), told Viet Nam News, "Proving the legality of source requires many documents, including the timber's scientific name, the country of harvest, forest location, and shipment bill."

"If Viet Nam has an effective mechanism to ensure legal sources of timber, it can sustain and expand export markets in future," Phuc said.

He called for strengthening existing regional ties to compare notes and discuss measures to cope with the increasing requirements in international markets.

Heiko Woerner, technical advisor to the Vietnamese-German Forestry Prog-ramme, said a project is underway to develop a "due diligence system" to enable HAWA members to prove legality.

The Indonesia Furniture Industry and Handicraft Association and other associations at the meeting spoke about their experiences in setting up programmes to reduce illegal logging and implement the legal verification and other certification systems.

Viet Nam's wood processing industry has enjoyed strong growth in recent years, with exports rising at an average of 15.5 per cent per year since 2007.

Last year it earned $4.6 billion from exports mainly to the US, China, EU, and Japan.

It ranks first in Southeast Asia, second in Asia, and sixth in the world in terms of wood exports.

The AFIC was established in 1978 as a non-profit regional trade organisation to promote and strengthen ties within the ASEAN furniture industry. — VNS

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