EU seeks negotiation on timber agreement

EU seeks negotiation on timber agreement

As Vietnam and Laos negotiate to enter a European Union trade agreement aimed at improving forestry governance, the EU – one of the world’s top timber importers – is urging Cambodia to join the scheme.

Following an official meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ouk Rabun in Phnom Penh on January 23, Jean-Francois Cautain, EU ambassador to Cambodia, said the EU would support a Cambodian effort to enter the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) agreement.

If Cambodia chooses to enter into FLEGT negotiations, it will seek a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU, a legally binding trade agreement which helps ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources.

“Strong political commitment is the main precondition for FLEGT,” Cautain said.

“Should the royal government of Cambodia decide to enter to the FLEGT process, the European Union would provide support for the strengthening of the forest governance.”

Vietnam and Laos are currently negotiating with the EU to become an adherent of FLEGT standards.

While the agriculture minister could not be reached for comment yesterday, he told the Post last week that he had received documents concerning FLEGT from the EU ambassador but had not reviewed them yet.

Am Sam Ath, senior coordinator for rights group Licadho, said that while he welcomed Cambodia entering a FLEGT, he questioned the government’s commitment to take part in the scheme.

“FLEGT will promote the legal export of timber and transparency in the sector; however, to be able to implement the scheme, the Cambodian government needs to take more serious action against illegal logging and strengthen its regulations on forest management,” he explained.

Sam Ath was also concerned that Cambodia could become a supplier of timber to Vietnam if Vietnam signed the VPA before Cambodia did.

“In that case, illegal timbers from Cambodia will become legal timbers in Vietnam,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not