Last update 12/3/2011 2:20:00 PM (GMT+7)

The doors for wooden furniture exports to open widely once FLEGT is settled

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam and the EU have entered the final negotiation stage, so that the granting of FLEGT certificate in accordance with the EU’s rules to Vietnamese exporters may be started prior to March 3, 2013, the time when FLEGT takes valid.

No need to have sub-licenses

Vietnam and the EU late last week successfully finished the second negotiation round of the VPA agreement on the implementation of the EU’s FLEGT. The aim of the agreement is to ensure that the timber and wooden furniture to the EU to be exported to the market will have legal sources. Besides, the agreement also aims to support the maintenance and expansion of Vietnamese wooden furniture exports to get adapted to the changes of the EU’s market, commencing from March 3, 2013.

In fact, Vietnamese wooden furniture exporters first heard about the FLEGT certificate many years ago. In their mind, FLEGT certificate could be considered as a kind of technical barrier, or a type of “sub-license” which is set up to control the imports from countries, including Vietnam.

Representatives of some exporters, when asked about FLEGT, keep pessimistic about the wooden furniture export prospect, saying that when businesses have to obtain a new license, this means that they will have one more spending item, which makes the production costs higher.

However, Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy General Director of the Forestry General Directorate, Head of the Vietnamese Negotiation Team for VPA agreement, said that the main purpose of FLEGT is not to create difficulties for businesses, but to protect the enterprises which have healthy business activities and help them increase the values of the products.

Once feeling worried that FLEGT would make businesses’ expenses increase, but Nguyen Van Thu, Director of Pisico wooden furniture corporation in Quy Nhon City, which specializes in exporting products to the EU and the US, now expects FLEGT to take effects soon.

He said that in order to prove the legitimacy of his company’s timber, Pisico had to spend 8000 dollars to get FSC, a certificate on forest management, and spend 3000 dollars more to expire the certificate every year. Meanwhile, with FLEGT, enterprises will not have to pay fees.

Thu said that once FLEGT is valid, this will help the enterprises with healthy business activities which use timber materials from legal sources can increase the values of their products. Meanwhile, the enterprises which use contraband timber would be “weeded out of the games.”

Nguyen Thanh Chung, Director of the Dac To Forestry Corporation, also said that it is very difficult to obtain FSC, because this always costs money, while enterprises still have to overcome the legal barrier.

Meanwhile, Chung said, if Vietnam successfully negotiates to reach a consensus for VPA, it will not have to spend time and money to obtain forest certificates, while its enterprises would be able to easily manage and use the forest products in a sustainable way.

What Vietnam has obtained from the last rounds of negotiation is that the EU has accepted that a state management agency in Vietnam will come forward and grant FLEGT certificates. It may happen that the enterprises, which get certificates, would be given a quota to be valid for a certain period, during which enterprises will have to take responsibility for their export products.

Meanwhile, the enterprises, which do not export wooden furniture products to the EU regularly, or still cannot prove the legal sources of the timber materials, will only get certificates for every export consignment, according to Ha Cong Tuan.

Vietnam won’t let exports stagnant

The next negotiation round on VPA is expected to take place in May 2012, while the VPA negotiation is expected to basically finish by the end of that year. As such, a VPA would be signed by late 2012 at the soonest.

The information has raised worries among business that Vietnamese exports would be stagnant, because the VPA agreement would be signed near the time when FLEGT takes effect in the EU. They fear that several months from late 2012 to March 3, 2013) would be not enough for Vietnamese agency to verify enterprises and grant FLEGT certificates.

However, Tuan has affirmed that Vietnam has been determined to sign VPA soon in order to avoid the interruption of wooden furniture exports.

At present, the thing that Vietnam is most interested in is the definition of “legal timber, which, by the nature, is the legal framework enterprises have to follow in different periods to obtain FLEGT certificates.

Tuan has reassured the public that the definition would be set up based on the definition suggested by the Vietnamese side. He has affirmed that the majority of the exporters to the US, EU, Japan and Australia will be granted FLEGT certificates.

Source: TBKTVN