Côte d'Ivoire and the EU start negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement
The VPA will help ensure that only timber verified to be legal under Côte d'Ivoire law can be exported to the EU.
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs responded positively on 14 February 2013 to a request from Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan of Côte d'Ivoire to begin negotiation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement.
Côte d'Ivoire ranks among the top tropical timber exporting countries supplying timber to the EU market. It is bordered by Liberia and Ghana, two countries that have concluded Voluntary Partnership Agreements and are implementing timber legality assurance systems.
Prime Minister Duncan described the importance of the agreement for Côte d'Ivoire in his request to begin negotiations of 12 December 2012. "Côte d'Ivoire is aware of the role that forests play in the national economy (150,000 m3 of timber exported per year), in ecological processes and in environment protection. Côte d'Ivoire is equally concerned by the reduction of the forest cover that has shrunk from 12 million ha in 1960 to 2.5 million ha today. The country spares no effort to improve forest management and ensure a sustainable economic and social balance. It is engaged with determination in a reforestation policy aiming at rehabilitating a forest cover in constant degradation. The FLEGT process could help to consolidate such a policy."