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EU and China boost cooperation to promote legal timber trade

EU and China boost cooperation to promote legal timber trade

China and the EU are strengthening their efforts to address illegal logging and promote legal timber trade through their Bilateral Coordination Mechanism (BCM) on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance.

At their most recent meeting — in Brussels in February — officials from both sides highlighted as priorities for 2017 the development of timber legality legislation in China, EU-China-Indonesia cooperation, the involvement of international financial organisations and capacity building of key institutional players.

The EU updated participants on its implementation of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan — including through enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and by negotiating and implementing Voluntary Partnership Agreements with timber-exporting countries. 

China shared progress in developing its timber legality legislation as well as policies and practices relating to the international trade and customs treatment of forestry products. 

The EU and China then discussed progress in the implementation of their 2016 BCM work plan and agreed on priorities and activities for the year ahead. 

Technical discussions followed. France and Germany provided an overview of EUTR enforcement in their respective countries and answered questions from the Chinese delegates. Chinese Customs officials showed strong interest in closer cooperation, making contact with EU Member States to exchange ideas and lessons learned for mutual capacity building.

The EU presented on the IT system for receiving FLEGT licences from Indonesia, and on the EU’s broader work on deforestation. During the lively discussion that followed, China expressed interest in the work on deforestation and suggested possible concrete steps for future cooperation. 

Zhang Hongyan, Director General of the International Cooperation Department of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China, led the Chinese delegation, which comprised officials from SFA, China’s Ministry of Commerce, China Customs and industry representatives from the China National Forest Products Corporation. 

Astrid Schomaker, Director of Global Sustainable Development at the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission, led the European delegation. It included representatives from the European Commission’s directorates-general for environment, for trade, and for international cooperation and development, the European External Action Service and the EU FLEGT Facility. The EU Member States represented were France, Germany, Malta, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. 

Following the meeting, the Chinese delegation travelled to Barcelona to meet experts at the EU FLEGT and REDD facilities. They discussed deforestation work in the context of REDD, the Barcelona BioEconomy Forum, FLEGT licences and the Transparency for Sustainable Economies (Trase) initiative.

The Chinese delegation also met representatives of Spain and Catalonia to learn about their experiences in implementing FLEGT and the EUTR, how the Spanish forest administration is organised and what support it provides to private landowners. The following day the delegation visited the Spanish timber importer Albrecht S.A, to learn how it conducts due diligence.

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Caption: Representatives of the EU and China during the Bilateral Coordination Mechanism meeting in Brussels in February 2017

Credit: EU FLEGT Facility