All about the Laos-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement
Forests cover about 58% of land area (equivalent to 13.7 million hectares) in Laos. Between 1990 and 2000, timber represented eight to nine percent of Laos’ annual GDP, but its contribution fell to four to five percent between 2001-2015. The Government plans to improve the forestry sector by revising major regulations on forest and land use, reducing export of raw logs and primary wood products from natural forests, providing incentives to promote commercial tree plantations and encouraging local processing. The National Assembly approved the new Land Law and Forest Law in June 2019.
Natural forest areas converted for non-forest uses such as infrastructure, particularly hydropower, has been the largest source of timber in Laos. Historically, timber from this conversion process was exported mainly to China and Vietnam. In 2016, Laos introduced and strictly enforced a ban on the export of logs and primary wood products, drastically reducing this export.
By entering into a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU, Laos aims to improve opportunities for the Lao timber industry to access the EU market, diversify their timber products and increase revenue from timber exports.
The country intends to use the VPA process in their efforts to improve its forest sector. The Government hopes to increase the proportion of skilled jobs with higher wages and to develop opportunities for technology transfer to the Lao timber industry. Laos also aspires to ensure sustainable development of the forest sector, reduce poverty, stop illegal logging, raise awareness of the benefits of timber legality in the country, enhance transparency and good governance and strengthen existing timber management policies.
The Department of Forest Inspection under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is the national focal point for developing the VPA. The Government of Laos announced its interest in negotiating a VPA with the EU in February 2012. In October 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry opened a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Standing Office with support from Germany's Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
Between 2017 and 2019, three face-to-face negotiations on the VPA between the Government of Laos and the EU took place, focusing on the Lao timber legality assurance system, timber legality definitions, supply chain control and verification.
For more information, visit the Lao FLEGT VPA website: www.flegtlaos.com
The EU FLEGT Facility works closely with the EU REDD Facility. In Laos, the EU REDD Facility works with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Government partners to strengthen forest sector governance and reduce deforestation and forest degradation. This is in support of the Nationally Determined Contributions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. For more information, see the Laos page on the EU REDD Facility’s website.
- South-east Asian countries share progress to tackle illegal logging and its associated trade 20.01.2020
- Briefing note provides new insights on small and micro-sized entities in the Mekong forestry sector 27.06.2019
- The EU and Laos conclude the third formal negotiation towards an agreement on combating illegal logging and promoting trade in legal timber products 21.06.2019
- Ghana and Liberia share timber legality lessons with Laos and the Republic of the Congo 25.01.2019
- Two assessments inform progress on EU-Lao PDR VPA negotiation 27.11.2018