Further progress on Lao PDR’s timber legality definition was among topics discussed at its third meeting with the EU on development of its EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement. Talks were held in Brussels from June 17 to 21 (Photo left: Chris Lang)
Among Lao representatives was Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the Head of the Lao negotiating team. He underlined the country’s enthusiasm for its VPA. “The government is committed to further develop our forest sector in a sustainable way and our negotiations with the EU are part of this,” he said. The implementation of the VPA will help enhance the robustness of our timber supply chain and responsible forest management.”
On its timber legality definitions, Lao delegates said that there have been further advances with regards legality of timber from conversion areas and imports. The focus was now also on natural forest, while labour obligations in forestry, wood processing and trading were under review.
Since Lao’s last meeting with the EU in 2018, it has also revised its Forest and Land Laws and issued a decree on environmental impact assessments. Delegates highlighted how the Forest Law now enables local communities to make commercial use of forests, supporting livelihoods and providing a source of raw material for small to medium sized enterprise and household timber production.
EU and Lao delegates at the meeting (Photo: EFI)
Detail was provided too on institutional developments for implementing the VPA and its timber legality assurance system. Jorge Rodriguez Romero, European Commission Directorate General for Environment Deputy Head of Unit said the EU looked forward to implementation and testing of the latter. “It will be an important step in furthering good forest governance and trade in legal timber, with positive effects for the forest sector,” he said.
The German Development Cooperation Project, ‘Protection and Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Lao’, continues to support the country in its progress towards its VPA.
According to the IMM Data Dashboard, EU imports from Lao in 2018 were €77,740. This was down on 2017’s €176,846, but ahead of 2015’s €46,982. Lao’s leading EU market in 2018 was Germany, accounting for over half its EU exports. Leading EU markets in 2017 were Latvi, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Sweden and France. Main products exported to the EU in 2018 were sawnwood and joinery. Paper and printed papers were also key categories.