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2013 Assessment Findings

The Vietnamese government has made some progress towards tackling illegal logging and the associated trade.

Vietnam has negotiated a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) with the EU, a process that has prompted a review of relevant legislation and improved the government’s engagement with civil society. In addition, it has signed agreements with Laos and Cambodia in which it has committed to coordination on forest management and trade. However, there has been little progress in policy reform, and there is still no legislation regulating illegal timber imports.

There is a high level of awareness of illegal logging and associated trade within the private sector: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody (CoC) certification has increased rapidly, particularly in the furniture sector. But efforts are hampered by poor access to third-party verified raw material. Both trade data discrepancies and analysis of trade flows indicate that illegal trade remains a serious problem.

The volume of imports of wood-based products at a high risk of illegality is estimated to have increased since 2000, but its share in the volume of total imports of wood-based products has declined over this same period.

2010 Assessment Findings

The 2010 assessment found that imports to Vietnam of illegally-sourced wood had trebled between 2000 and 2007, remaining steady in 2008. This was largely a reflection of rapid overall growth of the country’s wood sector, and so the percentage of illegal wood imports declined in this period. There were reduced flows of illegal timber from Indonesia but these were offset by increased imports from Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

The Vietnamese government signed a memorandum of understanding on forestry and law enforcement with Laos in 2008 and in 2010 was negotiating a voluntary partnership agreement with the EU.

In spite of these developments, it was considered that the government’s response lagged behind those of other consumer and producer countries studied and that further efforts were needed to help prevent imports of illegal timber.

Within the private sector, chain-of-custody certification had almost doubled in the four years to 2009. Companies had also noted growing interest amongst their customers regarding the legality of timber supplies, and believed that meeting these concerns would be an important factor in the future competitiveness of the country’s export industry.