VCN – Speaking with Customs News, Mr. Do Xuan Lap, Chairman of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association, said that the association is currently working to build a set of criteria for importing timber into Vietnam that is only legal timber. As early as the end of the second quarter in 2021 and at the latest at the beginning of the third quarter, the association will submit this set of criteria to the Prime Minister.
|Mr. Do Xuan Lap, Chairman of Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association.|
Vietnam currently imports a large amount of tropical wood every year, but the control of the legality of imported wood still has many shortcomings. If this problem is not solved, how will it affect the export of the whole industry, sir?
The Government of Vietnam has issued Decree 102/2020/ND-CP on the regulation of the Vietnam Timber Legal System (Decree VNTLAS). This decree clearly states the legality of timber requires both export and domestic markets.
However, the Decree has just been implemented and has not been finalized, especially the barriers to imported wood.
Vietnam’s exported timber is generally very good with legal timber compliance. 100% of wood exports of Vietnamese enterprises are now legal because they comply with the importing country’s standards. Therefore, there is no reason why Vietnam would lower the standards of importing wood.
The world, as well as many social organizations of countries around the world, have commented on the issue that Vietnam’s domestic market is using illegal timber. If not solved, this problem will greatly affect the wood industry. The wood industry is likely to face trade disputes and tax imposition. At that time, production will stagnate, the development of enterprises will be interrupted, even the implementation of export targets of the Government will also be affected.
Mr. Dao Duy Tam, Head of Management Division 1, Customs Management Supervision Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs, Ministry of Finance): Customs quickly coordinated and removed problems for timber enterprises.
Since Decree 102/2020/ND-CP regulating the Vietnamese Legal Timber Protection System (Decree VNTLAS) took effect, at the beginning of the implementation period in early November 2020, the customs office has received some problems from enterprises. Immediately after that, the General Department of Customs had a working session with the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association together with the General Department of Forestry (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) to promptly remove problems for businesses, especially those related to the identification of positive geographic areas, list of countries identified as active geographic areas and other issues related to the declaration on timber records such as lists No. 01, 02, 03.
In the future, along with other ministries in the fight against trade fraud related to taking advantage of Vietnam’s origin to export wood to other countries, Customs will continue to offer solutions to facilitate the export businesses in general, especially in the export of forest products.
Specifically, in exporting forest products, when implementing Decree 102/2020/ND-CP, the General Department of Customs will have several recommendations to the General Department of Forestry to promptly remove difficulties and problems; coordinate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in researching and further implementing the information technology system, especially the national single-window system in providing information to support enterprises as well as facilitating enterprises to submit files on the national single-window portal and send it to all other state management agencies.
When handling administrative procedures, businesses do not have to submit paper documents. Such regulations are aimed at minimizing the enterprises’ contact with state management agencies.
How has the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association made practical actions to improve the efficiency of ensuring the legality of tropical timber imports into Vietnam?
The Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association has done a lot of work such as sending dispatches to countries with high-risk geographic areas, especially Africa in general, and the country with the largest amount of tropical timber exported to Vietnam – Cameroon. The association sent a written request to the Cameroon Wood Association, Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture. They gave the criteria of what is legal to export wood to countries around the world, including Vietnam. The association has also worked with Laos and Cambodia, and based on the actual situation of importing Vietnamese wood, the association will soon submit to the Government the criteria for importing wood into Vietnam as legal timber.
However, this is only a small part of the solutions to implement sustainable development of the wood industry. To develop sustainable timber, there are still many big long-term problems. It is the culture in the use of wood products by Vietnamese citizens; besides, the issue of public spending of the Government must also ensure the plantation of forest timber. The exported wood products of Vietnam must comply with certified plantation timber.
Can you tell us more about the content as well as the roadmap for building a set of criteria for importing timber into Vietnam that is only legal timber that the association intends to submit to the Government?
The association’s set of criteria will be submitted to the Government and key agencies based on the legal timber standards of Africa, Cameroon, Laos, and Cambodia. They give a set of standards and we rely on that plus a part of the export wood criteria to build a set of criteria for imported wood. Today’s highest level of a set of imported wood criteria is mandatory for timber to have a certificate. That is the best, but in practice may have to be implemented step by step, or which commodities, wood, or the region must be certified.
Regarding the roadmap, at the earliest end of the second quarter and the latest at the beginning of the third quarter, the association will submit this set of criteria to the Prime Minister.
By Nguyen Thanh/Dieu Huong