3. Building the capacity of Chinese enterprises operating overseas
Chinese enterprises engaged in forestry activities overseas play an important role in CTLVS. Chinese investment in timber-producing countries is likely to increase, as China is encouraging Chinese enterprises to “Go Global” as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Most Chinese enterprises operating overseas maintain strong links with China and supply the Chinese market. It is therefore critical that these enterprises comply with the laws of their host countries so that the timber and timber products they supply to China are legal.
The Ministry of Commerce and the SFA have issued two voluntary guidelines for Chinese enterprises that engage in forestry activities overseas. The guidelines, besides dealing with legality, cover aspects of sustainable forest management.
Released in August 2007, the Guide on Sustainable Overseas Silviculture by Chinese Enterprises includes chapters on compliance with the laws and regulations of host countries; silviculture planning; biodiversity protection; and the environmental impacts of forestry operations, including forest conversion and community development.
Issued in 2009, the Guide on Sustainable Overseas Forest Management and Utilisation by Chinese Enterprises reinforces the earlier guide with additional provisions on wood processing and transportation, training and multi-stakeholder consultations.
A third guide, the Guidelines for Sustainable Overseas Trade & Investment has been drafted but is still to be issued.
The guidelines are voluntary, providing general principles that companies are encouraged to follow. To support uptake of the guidelines by industry and their implementation on the ground, CAF is developing country-specific handbooks. The handbooks aim to provide information and practical advice on local laws and regulations, encourage companies to strengthen environmental and social safeguards in their local operations, and promote sustainable forest management.
One such handbook for Chinese companies operating in Mozambique was published in September 2016. Besides information on the national forestry sector, the handbook features chapters on: investment; labour; forest management laws and regulations; transportation; processing; trade; and community rights and obligations. The handbook also includes tables summarising national legislation as well as relevant regional and international agreements.
Through InFIT efforts, country handbooks for Gabon, Guyana and Myanmar have been developed. The Country Handbook on Sustainable Overseas Investment and Trade by Chinese Enterprises for the Gabonese Republic is currently being revised following in-country field-testing and expert review. A specific chapter on forestry investment-related risks and risk-offset strategies, particularly those risks linked to forest sector legality and potential negative social and environmental impacts, will be further developed. Similar handbooks for other countries are being revised or developed. CAF plans to field test the manual for Guyana towards the end of 2017.
In addition to the handbooks, CAF supports companies in implementing the 2007 and 2009 Guides by establishing training platforms and conducting training workshops on sustainable forest management.