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Forests Investments

Timber Markets and Trade between Laos and Vietnam

A Commodity Chain Analysis of Vietnamese-Driven Timber Flows

By Forest Trends
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The Vietnamese wood manufacturing industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, becoming one of the largest furniture exporters in the world. With more than 2,000 wood processing and 450 wood export companies in Vietnam, about 4.5 million m3 of raw wood materials are imported each year from other countries around the world. With approximately 11 million hectares of forest, Laos serves as an important supplier of timber for Vietnam’s wood industry. The structure of the timber commodity chain between Laos and Vietnam is highly complex, with complicated permitting systems and numerous loopholes in the legal forestry framework. It is not always clear whether logging is legal or illegal: discretionary and special quota systems as well as logging associated with infrastructure programs complicate attempts to define legality.

This study examines the timber trade between Laos and Vietnam with a geographical focus on the Central Highlands of Vietnam and southern Laos. The study explores the political dynamics involved in the logging and trade between the two countries, identifying actors and the benefits they accrue as timber passes from Laos’ natural forests to wood processing / furniture producing companies in Vietnam.