Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, European Commissioner for the Environment Janez PotoÄnik and the Lithuanian Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis signed the Indonesia-European Union ( EU ) Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade ( FLEGT'VPA ) on Monday in Brussels.
The FLEGT-VPA aims to halt the trade of illegal timber and ensure that only verified legal timber and timber products are imported to the EU from Indonesia.
Indonesia is the first country in Asia to sign a FLEGT-VPA with the EU, and is by far the largest timber exporting country to do so. The signing represents a culmination of six years of intensive and constructive negotiations, involving the private sector, civil society and governments from both parties.
The agreement concerns a licensing system for timber products exported from Indonesia to any of the 28 EU member states, based on the Wood Legality Verification System ( SVLK ), the first national timber legality assurance system in the world to be implemented based on FLEGT principles.
Once the FLEGT-VPA is fully operational and FLEGT licenses are issued, Indonesian timber products will be acknowledged to be in full compliance with the EU Timber Regulation Number 995/2010, which prohibits the placement of illegal timber in the EU market. Operators and traders will not have to conduct a due diligence process on timber legality for FLEGT licensed products.
Zulkifli said the agreement was a significant breakthrough that represented strategic cooperation between producing and consuming countries, in particular between Indonesia and the EU, in combating illegal logging and its associated trade.
'The agreement demonstrates both parties have zero tolerance on illegal logging and its associated trade, and reflects our commitment to promoting the trade of legally certified timber', Zulkifli said in an official statement.
At the signing ceremony PotoÄnik said the agreement was good for the environment and good for responsible business, and it would boost consumer confidence in Indonesian timber.
Mazuronis said the EU presidency welcomed the signing of the agreement as it marked a new and important milestone in Indonesia-EU relations, and expressed hope for a smooth and successful implementation of the agreement.
Following the signing of the agreement, Indonesia and the EU will proceed to the ratification phase of the agreement through their respective processes, paving the way for full implementation of the FLEGT-VPA, which will take place when both sides assess the licensing is ready.