EDITORIAL: Promoting legal timber trade
The Jakarta Post
Last week, Indonesia celebrated the first anniversary of the licensing scheme that permits the export of certified timber products to the European Union without passing through due diligence checks. Since the scheme began on Nov. 15, 2016, Indonesia has issued 39,078 FLEGT licenses for the export of certified timber products to 28 EU member states, worth over €1 billion (US$1.18 million). This represented an increase of 17 percent from the same period last year.
The FLEGT license, named after the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, was implemented following a Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Indonesia and the EU to tackle illegal logging, whilst also aiming at improving forest governance and promoting the trade of legal timber products.
Indonesia has also increased transparency, reformed laws and boosted legal enforcement as well as combated illegal logging in order to help establish livelihoods for millions of people involved in the forestry sector.
Indonesia became the first country in the world to issue FLEGT licenses for timber products after it adjusted its timber legality assurance system in accordance with the strict requirements imposed by the EU. After the FLEGT-licensed products met EU requirements, EUbased importers are no longer required to conduct further due diligence before putting the products on the market.
The FLEGT licenses do not only benefit the Indonesian economy, but also strengthen the fight against illegal logging, which, along with forest fires, is responsible for deforestation. Indonesia is currently home to the world’s third largest rainforest.
The 17 percent increase in export value of timber products was high considering that many timber shipments were delayed because of unfamiliar bureaucratic procedures, given the transition to the FLEGT license system.
With harmonization of export procedures, Indonesia will have a competitive advantage over other exporters of timber products to the EU, which imported timber products worth €17.48 billion in 2016.
If Indonesia consistently applies the strict timber certification system, it has an opportunity to increase exports of its timber products not only to the EU, but also to large Asian markets such as India, China, Japan and South Korea, where strict timber regulations are also in place.
With the successful implementation of the FLEGT system, Indonesia should ensure all segments of the timber industry’s value chain benefit, including furniture makers. To achieve this goal, small and medium furniture companies, which often complain about the high cost of certifying raw materials, need government assistance, particularly in the form of more affordable auditing services.
More importantly, the achievements should encourage a review of the whole process related to the issuance of FLEGT licenses, to complement government efforts to curb the illegal logging and timber trade, while promoting the country’s exports of timber products to the world.
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