VPA between CAR and EU signed today

The Central African Repulic and the EU signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Brussels today. The official EC press release is available in English and in French.

By 2014, all shipments of wood products to the European Union from the Central African Republic will be required to carry a licence certifying their legal origin, after a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) was signed today between the EU and the Central African Republic. 

The agreement also provides European consumers with the assurance that wood products imported from the Central African Republic, including furniture and wood chips used for bio-fuel, are of legal origin. The Agreement comes as a result of the strong mutual commitment to eradicate illegal logging and to bring more transparency to the timber trade. Besides ensuring the legality of its timber exports, the agreement will also promote the sustainable management of forests in the country.

With 31% of the country covered by tropical forests, forestry activities are the third most important source of GDP of the Central African Republic, second in terms of exports and government revenue collection. As the country's main private sector employer, the forest sector contributes 4% of GDP, and 40% of the country's total export revenues. 

Under the agreement, in which local stakeholders, such as timber companies and NGOs, have been involved, the Central African Republic intends to set up a national system to ensure legal compliance in timber production, covering all wood products destined for the EU as well as those sold on the domestic market and to non-EU markets. At the same time, the EU will guarantee unrestricted access to its markets for all wood products from the Central African Republic. These stronger control systems will also enable the Central African Republic to stop illegal deforestation and environmental degradation that contribute to climate change.

The Central African Republic is the fifth country in Africa to engage with the European Union in a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement, after Ghana, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and Liberia.