The Jakarta Post
The exports of forestry products saw a threefold increase in the first half of this year, thanks to the timber legality certification (SVLK) that has helped build market confidence, an official from the Forestry Ministry said.
The ministry's secretary general, Hadi Daryanto, said the export of forestry products in the first half of this year might have rivaled last year's total annual exports, as the market favored Indonesia's legally-certified timber, now that the government had obliged exporters to verify their timber products before sending them abroad.
Data from the ministry shows that forestry exports reached US$1.53 billion by July, increasing more than threefold compared to the same period last year.
Indonesia booked $417.6 million in forestry exports last year, a slump of 40.27 percent compared to $699.07 million during the same period in 2011.
Plywood represented 68.42 percent out of the total exports with $1.04 billion, followed by wood moulding with $266.74 million, or 17.60 percent of the total figure.
'Export is skyrocketing as more buyers seek legal timber. Our country is ahead of others in providing traceable legal forestry products now that exporters are only allowed to market SVLK-certified timber,' Hadi told reporters recently.
'The certification has helped pave the way for Indonesia to penetrate global markets where countries have started imposing an audit scheme for legal timber imports.'
The US introduced the Lacey Act in 2008 and the European Union (EU) introduced the EU Timber Regulation this year, both of which ban the trade of illegally-sourced timber and wood products, with penalties for importers that fail to comply.
Hadi added the negotiation over the schedule to sign the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU had progressed, with the EU offering a signing date in late September or early October.
The SVLK was introduced in 2003 to fight illegal logging, which was running virtually unchecked nationwide.
The SVLK has been mandatory for industrial forest concessions and industries since 2010, as it was expected to smooth the way to the European market that, since March, requires importers and sellers to keep records of the sources of their supplies.
To comply with the regulation, due diligence must be conducted to ensure the timber is legal, with exceptions for products having secured VPA licenses, which will be considered by the EU to have been legally harvested.
Indonesia was among the first country to conclude the negotiation with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2011, but the signing of the VPA itself was delayed twice last year and has been deferred several times this year.
The necessity for translation into 22 EU languages is said to be behind the postponement.
'The EU told us that with or without the VPA, Indonesia has started seeing flourishing exports,' Hadi said.
'But what we need is sustainability, we need to make sure that flourishing exports will not just be a momentarily occurrence,' Hadi went on .
Indonesia, for instance, saw a 43.95 percent increase to 3.99 million cubic meters of timber exports in 2011 compared to 2.77 million cubic meters in 2011, before dropping 34.2 percent to 2.62 million cubic meters last year.
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