Vietnam and Cambodia Meet to Discuss Timber Trade

Delegates at the event is titled “Policy dialogue on trade in timber and timber products between Việt Nam and Cambodia: Legality and sustainability” held in HCM City on October 22. — VNS Photo

HCM CITY — Vietnamese and Cambodian officials, business executives and experts discussed measures to enhance co-operation in the trade and management of timber and timber products at conference in HCM City yesterday.

Experts said the two neighnours share more than 1,100km of border across 10 provinces in Việt Nam and nine in Cambodia, making it a challenge to control illegal trade, including in forestry products.

Phạm Văn Điển, deputy director general of the Việt Nam Administration of Forestry, said assuring sufficient timber supply from legal sources is important for the country’s exports.

Timber imports help diversify raw material sources.

“Cambodia is one of the countries supplying timber for our processing factories.

“To combat illegal logging, transportation and trade of wood in border provinces, both Việt Nam and Cambodia have improved their institutional and legal frameworks in recent years.

“But it seems the two countries’export-import enterprises find it difficult to operate within the law.”

According to Chan Ponika, deputy director general of the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, the dialogue would contribute to boost “forest industry development, enhancing trade in timber and timber products from legal sources in both countries.”

The meeting would be a good experience and learning that could be used to cope with the challenges involved in cross-border timber and timber products trade, he said.

The dialogue also discussed timber processing and trading; regulations for legal logging, transportation, processing and trading and then two countries’ customs regulations on timber import and export.

Nguyễn Xuân Thắng, head of the forestry violations investigation and handling division at the Forestry Protection Department, said Việt Nam has issued regulations on dossiers of lawful forest products and inspection of the origin of forest products and administrative sanctions for illegal logging, transportation, possession, processing, and trading of timber.

It allows only timber from legal sources to enter the country, he said.

Delegates at the event said there was a big discrepancy in the export volume and revenue figures reported by the two sides, and called for finding a way to enhance co-operation in information sharing to improve the situation.

Teang David, deputy director of the Cambodian Department of Legislation and Law Enforcement, said Cambodia has banned the export of timber from natural forests and only allows exports of wood from cultivated forests.

To export timber, there are quotas, import-export licenses and other requirements.

Việt Nam and Cambodia need to strengthen join actions in combating and seizing illegal timber from Cambodia and reporting and sharing information on the chain of custody.

Participants also suggested the two sides should strengthen enforcement of the rules they already have in place.

Bùi Chính Nghĩa, deputy director, Department of Forest Production Development, said Việt Nam’s wood industry has developed rapidly and steadily in recent years to become the fifth largest exporter in the world and second biggest in Asia.

Its timber and forestry products exports were worth US$8 billion last year.

The industry used about 31 million cubic metres of timber last year, with domestic supply accounting for 25 million cubic metres, mainly coming from concentrated forests, rubber plantations, home gardens, and scattered trees, he said.

The country spent $2.19 billion on timber imports last year, with Cambodia accounting for $219 million worth.

On the second day of the dialogue today (October 23) delegates will make a fact finding trip to the Xa Mát border gate in Tây Ninh Province to study clearance procedures for timber consigned from Cambodia to Việt Nam.

The event is titled “Policy dialogue on trade in timber and timber products between Việt Nam and Cambodia: Legality and sustainability.”

It is organised by Việt Nam Administration of Forestry in collaboration with the Forestry Administration of Cambodia. — VNS

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