Ongoing illegal imports
To date, 210,000 people have signed a petition by German non-profit Rainforest Rescuecalling for the deal to be stopped. Their opposition centres around the illegal timber which continues to pass across the porous Cambodia-Vietnam border, enriching Cambodia’s ruling family, and leading to the razing of Cambodia’s forests.
Their concerns are valid and based on solid evidence. Nevertheless, they either misunderstand, or mistrust, the VPA’s potential to positively change Vietnam’s timber importers’ sourcing practices.
Fern and the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) have analysed the EU-Vietnam timber deal, drawing on interviews with Vietnamese civil society members, external experts, Europeans and Vietnamese involved in the negotiations, as well as public domain sources.
Our analysis shows what the deal has achieved, the dangers in abandoning it, and the steps that must be taken as it moves into the critical implementation phase: that is, before so-called FLEGT licenses can be issued. Only then can Vietnam guarantee that timber it exports has been harvested, processed and exported legally.
While Vietnam’s timber sector still has far to travel on the road to legality, it is important to understand the distance it has come, and the context of the journey.