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Last Updated:[19-08-2009 05:33:41 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Malaysia-EU Timber Trade Deal by Year End

tradenews The European Union (EU) and Malaysia are planning to conclude the bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to promote trade of the legitimately produced and harvested Malaysian timber by end of this year after four years of protracted negotiations. The pact is designed with safeguards to redefine the perception of the sustainability and legality of timber or timber products imported to the EU from Malaysia.

As to keep a tab on the illegally logged timber, the European Commission (EC) has taken the initiative to develop its own Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade (FLEGT) action plan. The FLEGT program will essentially ensure the EU member states that the Malaysian timber and timber products were sourced legally and support progress towards sustainable forest management.

Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission (EC) in Malaysia Vincent Piket said a breakthrough in outstanding bilateral issues would help to finalize the VPA by 2009 end. If concluded, the deal will make Malaysia the first country in Asia to have such an agreement with the EU.

The timber certification by FLEGT is expected to boost demand for the Malaysian timber and related products in the EU as the lumber or its products could enter the region without proving further legality or sustainability prerequisites. The legality requirement is ‘diagonally’ applied to timber and timber products such as furniture also. That means if a piece is produced in one country with wood sourced from another country the legality trace will have to go back to the source country.

A year ago, the VPA talks were rocked by a timber scam that implicated a Malaysian state agency in a timber trade scandal involving illegal imports of Indonesian logs that was later re-exported as Malaysian timber to other countries, including China, Taiwan and Japan. The accord with a FLEGT seal on Malaysian timber or its products is expected to open up a lawful path for the Malaysian timber and related products to the EU, and thereby, hope to enhance the value of the same in the international market.

By Jose Roy

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