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:

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.

VPA status

Detailed information on efforts by Laos and the EU to tackle illegal logging through a Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

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Find out what impact the Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Laos and the EU is having on the ground.

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Get answers to some common questions on the Laos-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

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Related links 

All about what is a VPA and how it is structured.

All about what FLEGT licences are and how they can benefit businesses in the EU as well as timber producers in countries outside the EU. is a one-stop centre where members can access and share news, research, training materials and many other resources.

Navigate the map to find out about past and ongoing FLEGT projects around the world.

The knowledge sharing platform for development cooperation of the European Commission where you can share, learn and collaborate with development professionals.

All about the EU Timber Regulation that aims to reduce illegal logging by ensuring that no illegal timber or timber products can be sold in the EU.