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Indonesia and the EU adopt new timber trade legality rules in a move expected to boost bilateral timber trade

Since 1 January 2013 Indonesia requires the export of timber products to be accompanied by V-Legal Document, assuring the legality of the products from the point of harvesting to transporting, trading and processing. On the other hand, from 3 March 2013, the European Union will implement its Timber Regulation laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market.

Under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) between Indonesia and the EU, it is expected that in the future the combined policies will boost the trade in Indonesian timber products to the European market. 

While there is a gap between SVLK starting in January 2013, the EUTR in March 2013 and the VPA coming into force later in the year the regulatory framework is already favourable for EU-Indonesia timber trade and therefore we do not expect any interruption in export of legal Indonesian timber to the EU. The EUTR will not result in any additional control at EU border.

Between October-December 2012, Indonesia and several EU member states conducted a shipment test as a pilot exercise for the export of timber products with V-Legal Documents. This shipment test was largely positive – a workshop was held on 21st January 2013 to review lessons learned to adapt the system so it is ready for the VPA when it comes into force. There will be an assessment of the SVLK later in the year. A positive assessment will allow the VPA to enter into force. 

The Secretary General of Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, H.E. Mr. Hadi Daryanto and the Head of the EU Delegation for Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN, H.E. Ambassador Julian Wilson held a press conference on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013. They noted that Indonesia's high-quality timber is very popular in the EU. At the same time, both sides share common interests to fight the illegal timber trade.

They welcomed the efforts undertaken by Indonesia to develop the SVLK and shared the view that the SVLK is making good progress in assuring legality of Indonesian timber. The Ambassador welcomes the progress towards the VPA and, especially for EU timber importers, the SVLK is one of the most progressive programmes assuring timber legality in the world.

Indonesia and the EU are deepening their close partnership to promote the trade of legal timber through the development of coherent supply-side measures on the Indonesian side and demand-side measures on the EU side. Indonesia has developed the Timber Legality Assurance System, known as SVLK with the active involvement of broad stakeholders from academia, forest-related business associations, relevant ministries, and NGOs. SVLK is based on the spirit of the 2001 Bali Declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG). Export shipments verified as legal under the SVLK scheme are issued with "V-Legal" Documents. Under the same spirit, the EU has adopted legislation to ensure that only legally harvested timber is sold within the EU, as well as a framework for bilateral agreements between the EU and partner countries known as FLEGT-VPAs (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement). 

Full joint press release by the EU Delegation and the Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia

More information

More details on the on the EU-Indonesia VPA are given in this Briefing Note.