Ensure the legality of imported wood: A vital issue of the wood processing industry

This is the affirmation of Mr. Do Xuan Lap – Chairman of Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association at the Workshop on Legality Control of Imported Tropical Timber organized by the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFORES) on the 20th. / 4/2021.

Controlling risks, ensuring the legality of imported wood not only helps to maintain stable export markets but also creates a driving force for market expansion.

Mr. Do Xuan Lap said that in the first quarter of 2021, the export turnover of wood and wood products increased by 20%. If the current growth momentum can be maintained, the target number of 14-14.5 billion USD in export turnover set by the Government for the industry in 2021 can be expected. However, according to Mr. Do Xuan Lap, the factor influencing the achievement of this goal in 2021 is the control of risks in the import of raw wood as natural wood species.

To control imported wood materials, in October 2020, Decree 102/2020-ND-CP regulating the system to ensure the legality of timber takes effect. According to the Decree, risky wood is wood imported from non-active geographic areas, and is a risk species. The Decree stipulates that when importing risky timber into Vietnam, importing enterprises need to supplement documents to prove the legality of timber. Besides, businesses need to take measures to minimize risks.

Mr. Do Xuan Lap said that, on average, each year, Vietnam imports from 2-2.5 million m3 of log timber which is tropical timber, equivalent to 40-50% of the total volume of imported logs and sawn timber. Vietnam imports timber from several countries in Africa, Laos, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and South American countries. According to Decree 102’s imported wood classification criteria, this is a high-risk source of wood. This wood source imported into Vietnam is mainly used for domestic consumption.

The habit of using natural wood, meat wood, especially precious wood species still exists relatively popular in Vietnam. However, this habit is causing environmental damage and for the timber industry.

Without good control of the origin of imported wood, trade disputes will inevitably be imposed. Ensuring the legality of timber import risks is the vital issue of the industry. This is directly related to the effective implementation of Decree 102 on controlling import-risk timber – Mr. Do Xuan Lap emphasized.

In the Report “Vietnam imports tropical timber and its implications for the implementation of the VNTLAS Legal Timber Protection System Decree”, the authors To Xuan Phuc, Cao Thi Cam, and Tran Le Huy analyze: Risk reduction Imported tropical timber legality is vital to the Vietnamese timber industry with a focus on exports. Reducing risks in the importation of tropical wood not only helps maintain the stability of the export market but also creates a driving force for market expansion.

Currently, the United States is the largest import market for Vietnamese wood products. Import turnover from this market accounts for over 60% of the total export turnover of Vietnam. The US government has been accused of illegally importing timber from a number of countries in the tropics.

These allegations come in the context that Vietnam is importing large quantities of natural wood from many countries, including African countries and Cambodia. The US government is still investigating the Vietnamese wood industry based on this allegation. With the importance of the US market today, the investigation by the US Government poses great risks to the export activities of Vietnam’s wood industry to this market in the future.

The authors believe that reducing risks in importing raw material wood is natural wood, in terms of both policy and practical activities in the import and domestic consumption phase. In terms of policy, tightening management in the import phase of risky wood sources in the spirit of the VNTLAS Decree, ensuring the legality of imported timber should be strengthened and effectively implemented. Import enterprises ensure, commit and take responsibility for the authenticity of the papers in the import dossier.

Most of the risk wood imported into Vietnam is for domestic consumption. In addition to tightening import management, reducing risks in the supply of imported wood should include changing habits in using wood in the domestic market.

Accordingly, the State should take the lead in changing the habit of using natural wood. The government should also issue a public procurement policy for wood products. These policies need to develop in the direction of completely eliminating imported natural wood from risk sources, prioritizing the use of domestically planted forest species …- authors To Xuan Phuc, Cao Thi Cam , Tran Le Huy- petition.

Le Kim Lien


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