— Pledge future collaborative efforts to enhance trade agreement
The visiting Guyana Forestry Mission and the Libera Forestry Development Authority (FDA), have held series of fruitful exchanges, thereby mutually sharing each other’s experiences, and examples in the conduct of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU, and a timber-exporting country outside the EU.
It aims to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country are processed within the frame work of laws of that country.
In addition to promoting trade in legal timber, the VPA addresses the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement.
AS for trade, the VPA considers vital development, and environmental issues.
According to an FDA release, Liberia is one of six tropical countries that have ratified and are implementing the VPA.
During their two-day encounter, the both sides (FDA and the Guyana Forestry Mission) respectively discussed each other’s experiences in terms of challenges, and the methods used to drive the VPA consistent with its terms and agreement.
Based on the comprehensive overview on the Legality Verification Department (LVD) by Simulu Karmara, technical manager of the department, the Forestry Mission of Guyana had the opportunity to learn the history and structure of the LVD, Libertrace system, Chain of Custody (CoC /wood tracking system from the FDA side.
The team, the release said, also learned from the FDA side how the legality verification system works in terms of compliance and management system, such as tax collection, and how it feeds legally into forest community benefit sharing.
Another lesson learned was the function of the newly created Liberia Licensing Department (LLD), which is responsible to issue export permit and final checks.
Similarly, the Guyanese Forestry Mission shared its experience with its FDA counterpart, including how and where they began the process, and what it caused them to arrive at where they are today, including the success gained thus far with the VPA process.
The acquaintance visit also witnessed a frank exchange between the VPA secretariat, and its Guyana counterpart; the FLEGT secretariat where they mutually compared notes on their respective functions.
Subsequently, the VPA Support Unit where they learned about the role of the European Union in the implementation phase of the VPA, and the VPA capacity building support to the FDA.
They also visited the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), and shared the process on how LRA works with FDA, including invoicing, customs and tax collection and LRA’s role in the field.
Similarly, the team unveiled the role of Guyana Revenue Authority in the forest sector, and current systems.
On November 20, 2019 the team took a field trip to FMC ‘K”/ ICC timber yard Buchanan to acquaint themselves with the LVD/COC process; ICC sawmill to verify traceable implications, and how saw mill and log yards are managed in Liberia.
They also visited the Port of Buchanan, and learned shipment procedures.
On November 21, 2019 they departed for a concession visit to acquaint themselves with block information cells survey lines arrangement, tree tagging, and block pre-harvesting inspection procedures.
In his earlier welcome remarks, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen, lauded the Guyanese delegation for the visit, which he described as mutually benefiting.
Doryen said Liberia, through the FDA, is prepared to take any positive step forward that could provide long term security, and protection for the remaining the country’s forest.
He said Liberia’s position on the culture of conservation remains unaltered, and that that Liberia was contemplating on value addition to our round logs. He wished them well in their mission.