The VPA is a legally-binding bilateral trade agreement that aims to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Vietnam to the EU. Under the VPA, Vietnam will develop Timber Legality Assurance Systems (TLAS) to verify that its timber exports are legal, and the EU has agreed to accept only licensed imports from Vietnam when the VPA is signed and FLEGT licensing system is in place.
The agreement also includes the establishment of complaints mechanisms and independent evaluations, as well as commitments to involve stakeholders in its implementation and the disclosure of information. The VPA is designed to tackle illegal logging in Vietnam. It will also commit Vietnam to the development of procedures and legislation requiring importers to conduct due diligence in preventing illegally-harvested timber from entering Vietnamese supply chains.
- VPAs are among the key tools of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of 2003. As of mid-2016, 15 countries were negotiating or implementing VPAs with the EU.
- Vietnam and the EU began negotiating the VPA in 2010.
- On 11 May 2017, Vietnam and the EU initialed the VPA. Initialing marks the formal conclusion of the negotiations. The two sides will now undertake a legal review of the negotiated text which will then be followed by translation of the Agreement into the EU’s official languages and Vietnamese. Before the agreement can enter into force, each Party will have to complete the procedure for signature and ratification of the Agreement in line with its internal procedures.
- Under the VPA both parties commit to trading only in legal timber products.
- Among other things, the VPA describes a timber legality assurance system capable of verifying the legality of timber products. When fully operational the timber legality assurance system will issue FLEGT licences to accompany Vietnam’s exports of verified legal timber products to the EU.
- Vietnam will then only export FLEGT-licensed timber products to the EU. The EU will only allow Vietnam’s timber exports to enter the EU if they are accompanied by a valid FLEGT licence. FLEGT-licensed timber is considered as meeting the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU importers and domestic producers from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market.
- The VPA also includes a framework for overseeing, monitoring and evaluating implementation of the VPA and the economic, social and environmental impacts of the VPA.
- The VPA is the first that the EU has ever concluded with a major timber processing country and is the EU’s second VPA with an Asian country (after Indonesia).
Learn more about VPA from the video below:
Full text of the Vietnam – EU VPA: