Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam to ban timber imports



Vietnam to ban timber imports

Logging trucks leave Oral district, Kampong Speu, loaded with timber last year
Logging trucks leave Oral district, Kampong Speu, loaded with timber last year. Imports and exports of Cambodian logs have now been suspended by the Vietnamese Ministry of Trade. May Titthara

Vietnam to ban timber imports

Vietnam will be enacting a “temporary suspension” of timber imports and re-exports sourced from natural forests in Cambodia and Laos, according to a government circular from the country’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The circular takes full effect on December 8 but does not indicate when the suspension will end.

Officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade did not reply to requests for comment.

Sources on the Cambodian side were not aware of the circular, which was signed on October 24 and publicly released on the ministry’s website yesterday morning.

“I’m hoping it’s a good [thing],” said Bunra Seng, Cambodia country director of Conservation International.

However, Seng said he was not sure if the circular would make a dent in the substantial logging in northeastern Cambodia near the Vietnamese border.

Cambodian timber is often exported to Vietnam – and from there to China – with Cambodian business tycoon Try Pheap accused of amassing tens of thousands of luxury wood logs in Kampong Thom province destined for the country last year.

But the practice is far from new. According to a 2008 report from the Environment Investigations Agency, Vietnam had closed about three-quarters of its state logging companies by 1997, and began receiving large amounts of timber from Cambodia and Laos.

“The Vietnamese timber industry is very much dependent on timber from Cambodia, because they protect their own forests,” said opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who has investigated logging issues in the past.

“I’m not sure if [the circular] is just to please the international community or if it’s a real thing.”

A senior official in Cambodia’s forestry administration told the Post that even if the circular was implemented, the effect would be difficult to determine, as government statistics of exports to Vietnam do not depict the reality.

“This is very difficult to answer, because officially, we have a number of statistics of exports to Vietnam; if they [implement the] ban, the effect could still be very small.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there