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On 5th October, the European Commission (EC) formally adopted the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) Report 2017, the second biennial report on implementation since the regulation came into law in March 2013.

The final session of the IMM Berlin Trade Consultation focused on private sector green procurement and its recognition of FLEGT as well as the Indonesian licensing system and sustainability.

IMM's role is to use a combination of trade flow analysis and market research to track market impacts of FLEGT-licensed timber and wood products. The market research aspect lay at the heart of its Trade Consultation in Berlin in November.

The signature by the EU and Vietnam of the latter’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement is scheduled for later this year, with ratification in 2019. They are being heralded as critical staging posts, and important moments both practically and psychologically, in the country’s progress towards full VPA implementation and its start of FLEGT licensing of timber and wood product exports to the EU. 

The FLEGT licensed information point is expanding its information for timber buyers. Recent IMM trade consultations revealed that the trade advantages of FLEGT licensed timber are relatively well-known. However, the private sector is keen to learn more about, and articulate to their clients, the social, economic and environmental benefits of FLEGT licensed timber. 

The Joint Implementation Committee for the Indonesian VPA met on 1 March 2018 in Jakarta to review experience with the first 15 months of licensing. According to information from the Indonesian SILK database and the Licensing Information Unit (LIU), more than 39,000 FLEGT licenses were issued during 2017. This means that FLEGT-licenses accounted for 18.2% of all V-Legal documents – paperwork accompanying Indonesian exports globally and guaranteeing timber legality – issued during that period.

Comment from the EFI FLEGT-Facility: A quiet revolution has transformed Ghana’s forestry sector, laying the foundations for sustainable development, greater benefits for communities and improved access to international markets. One recent development is the Ghana Timber Transparency Portal, the result of a collaboration between the Forestry Commission and civil society organisation Civic Response.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has conducted an analysis of Ghana’s FLEGT VPA requirements compared to requirements of Ghana’s National Forest Certification System, which is expected to obtain PEFC-endorsement in early 2019. The study identified significant synergies and complementarity between FLEGT and certification requirements and concluded that, while “working at different levels in many regards”, the ultimate outcomes would be complementary: “improving forest management and combating illegal logging and associated trade”.

The establishment of FLEGT VPAs with Central African timber producers has been a welcome and positive development, with longer term potential for facilitating trade with EU customers. However, to date the fact that African countries have signed VPAs and are hopefully progressing towards their full implementation and ultimately FLEGT licensing, has not impacted on day-to-day business. Currently EU operators still feel they are having to put suppliers in VPA-engaged African countries through as searching due diligence as ever to comply with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, and this can be a time-consuming, arduous business.  If the VPA process prior to FLEGT licensing can in anyway simplify or streamline EUTR due diligence procedure, it is not sufficiently explained or understood in the marketplace.

A new report from the European Forest Institute (EFI) FLEGT facility has identified opportunities for China to incorporate timber legality requirements into its laws and regulations and thus help promote legal forest products trade.  It also identifies the challenges.

It may be little known outside Indonesia, but the country’s PHPL scheme is its largest sustainable forest management (SFM) programme and it stands behind and further underpins the sustainability credentials of a significant proportion of Indonesian FLEGT-licensed exports.

Ghana has launched the public Timber Transparency Portal that provides access to information on logging in Ghana. The Portal can be accessed by stakeholders around the globe. It is part of governance reforms in the forest sector as a result of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Ghana and the EU, according to a press release from Civic Response.