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Adding Value

Can FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements Lead to Increased Investment and Trade for Partner Countries?

By Dominic Elson
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In May 2003, the European Union published its proposal for a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan which sets out a range of measures that aim to tackle the global problem of illegal logging and associated trade, including financial and technical support to achieve improved forest governance in developing timber-producing countries. It also provides for Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between these countries and the European Union. Under these agreements, Partner Countries will implement an agreed licensing scheme that assures that their timber exports to the EU have been legally produced. In return, EU border control agencies will only allow shipments of timber products from Partner Countries entry to the single market if they are covered by these FLEGT timber legality assurance systems (TLAS). VPAs therefore tackle both the supply and demand side of the trade, combining border controls with measures and capacity-building in partner countries to implement timber legality assurance systems. This arrangement aims to boost the confidence of buyers in increasingly sensitive EU markets that they are not purchasing illegal timber, thereby enhancing the reputation of exports originating from Partner Countries.