London seminar highlights vital importance of trade governance

Latest developments to strengthen international forest and forest product trade governance, and its key role in achieving sustainability targets, including the goals of the COP26 Declaration on Forests, were the theme of a seminar in London. The event featured presentations from the Independent Market Monitor (IMM) on FLEGT and from Timber Development UK (TDUK) on the new Tropical Timber Accord (TTA). It formed part of the TDUK’s World of Wood Festival, a six-week exhibition including a series of seminars and discussions co-organised with CEI-Bois. This was timed to coincide with COP26 to highlight to policy makers the vital part forestry and timber, notably wood in construction, must play in combating the climate crisis.

IMM Trade Analyst Rupert Oliver highlighted the significance of FLEGT VPA partner countries in the global timber industry, accounting for 11% of world trade, a percentage that’s rising thanks to rapidly climbing Vietnamese wood furniture sales to the US. He said there was so far ‘no strong signal of significant market benefits [for Indonesia] attributable directly to FLEGT licensing’, adding that FLEGT was a ‘slow burn, not a silver bullet’. But he said it had achieved ‘considerable reach and influence in global forest trade and should be built on …… with efforts to promote a favourable position for FLEGT-licensed timber, including via UK/EUTR enforcement and communication of FLEGT’s contribution to sustainable forest management in partner countries’.

Lead Consultant Sarah Storck said IMM’s trade surveys in VPA partner countries had found respondents were positive FLEGT could increase in impact in line with growth in national and regional timber market legality regulation, which now covers 49% of global timber trade.

TDUK chief executive David Hopkins said the goal of the Tropical Timber Accord (TTA), drawn up with trade body partners globally, was to develop a new international tropical timber trade framework focused on governance. Under the initiative, supplier countries which improved forest and timber trade legality performance would receive ‘green lane’ access to consumer markets worldwide, including key players such as the EU/UK, USA, China and Japan. This, said Mr Hopkins, would lead to growth in the legal, sustainable forest products market and attract investment to keep forests standing.

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