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EU and China agree on their 2018 cooperation under the BCM

China and the European Union (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. The 9th meeting of the BCM took place in Beijing, China, on 7 March 2018. 

Mr. Wang Chunfeng, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China, opened the meeting. ‘China has taken a series of measures tocombat illegal logging and associated trade during the past years. Good progress has been made under the BCM and other platforms in this regard,’ he said. ‘China has attached great importance to the BCM discussions and guides the Chinese enterprises to better understand and comply with the EU Timber Regulation.’ 

Ms. Astrid Schomaker, Director of Global Sustainable Development at the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission, emphasised the importance of the dialogue between the EU and China. ‘The EU is pleased to learn about China’s progress in the development of timber legality legislation, which is a core element of the BCM,’ she said. Pointing to the finalisation of the ‘Feasibility analysis of the incorporation of timber legality requirements into Chinese laws or regulations to promote trade in legal forest products,’ Ms. Schomaker said the study constitutes ‘an important milestone in the work of the BCM’ and ‘looked forward to following up on its findings.’ She added that ‘the EU also welcomes current efforts to explore the recognition of Indonesian FLEGT-verified legal timber in China.’ 

The Chinese delegation comprised officials from the SFA, the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) and China Customs. The European delegation included representatives from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment, the Delegation of the EU to China and Mongolia, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the EU FLEGT Facility. 

Presentations on progress in combatting illegal logging and associated trade during 2017 were made by China and EU Member States. China highlighted the development of its Timber Legality Verification System and current efforts to support the implementation of Guidelines regulating the overseas activities of Chinese forestry firms. It noted ongoing work on the development of timber import measures, and described bilateral and regional efforts undertaken to combat illegal logging.

The European Commission presented on the FLEGT Action Plan and updated participants about the enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation. The presentation included examples of checks on furniture imports from China and the latest figures on Indonesian FLEGT licences. 

Representatives of competent authorities of the United Kingdom and Spain provided updates on the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and the EU FLEGT Action Plan over the past year. The UK described its more rigid approach to non-compliance, with the first criminal prosecution in November 2017. It also shared concrete examples of inspections and notices of remedial action to companies importing plywood products and kitchen furniture from China. Spain presented on its implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and close cooperation with other EU Member States, emphasising that more checks are to be expected. 

The two sides endorsed the progress report on the implementation of the BCM work plan for 2017. They also agreed to the 2018 work plan, which includes priorities and activities for the year ahead. Noting the importance of ongoing work in China on the formulation of timber import management measures, they agreed that the BCM would support progress in this area.

China and the EU also discussed their future strategic cooperation to promote trade in legal timber and agreed to enhance synergies between the two sides’ engagement in third countries. Building on previous experience, it was noted that support from EU Member States, including from Germany and the United Kingdom, continues to be instrumental.

In the afternoon, China and the EU held technical discussions with representatives from the private sector and from non-governmental organisations. The Chinese delegation presented the approved BCM 2018 work plan. The representatives from the private sector and from non-governmental organisations then outlined their work and identified options for active support to the priority areas identified in the 2018 BCM work plan.  

On the meeting’s second day, participants went on a field trip to the Tianjin port, where they met with customs officials and learned about China’s procedures for receiving and inspecting imported goods. The 10th meeting of the BCM will take place in Brussels, Belgium, in 2019.