Liberia, EU Review Progress under Legal Timber Trade Agreement

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Representatives of Liberia and the European Union have met to review progress towards implementation their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to ensure Liberia exports only legal timber products to the EU, supporting sustainable forestry and promoting trade.

The Liberia-EU VPA Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) met for the 4th time on 21-23 September at the Monrovia City Hall. The JIC is the body established to oversee the implementation of the trade agreement between the EU and Liberia.

Topics discussed during the meeting included law enforcement and improvement of the regulatory framework for the forestry sector; progress in developing new software (LiberTrace) to maintain the chain of custody system; and capacity building for Liberia.

Following two days of technical meetings, which included stakeholder engagement, the formal JIC took place on Friday 23 September in the presence of civil society and private sector representatives.

The Liberian Delegation to the JIC meeting stressed the importance of developing, with the support of international donors, a well-trained, equipped and operational Forestry Development Authority.

This will enable Liberia to sustainably manage its forest resources and issue FLEGT Licenses for exports, generating social benefits and much-needed revenues from timber and non-timber resources, as well as providing benefits to affected communities.

Speaking at the JIC, European Union Ambassador to Liberia Tiina Intelmann said, “The VPA is not a development cooperation project, but a mechanism for Liberia to generate revenues and economic growth through its own natural resources. The process has already brought over 9 million dollars of revenue to the country and we are happy to see that some of these resources have already been channelled into projects for forest communities.

“Responsibilities for managing the system are progressively being transferred from external consultants to the Forestry Development Authority and the government of Liberia. We encourage the government to remain committed politically and financially to this process,” said Intelmann

Liberia and the EU negotiated the VPA between 2009 and 2011. The EU ratified the VPA in 2012 and Liberia ratified it in 2013. They are now implementing the commitments they made in the agreement.

Under the VPA, Liberia commits to developing systems to ensure all timber exports are legal and export licences are issued in accordance with Liberian regulations. Once this system is operational, Liberia commits to export to the EU only FLEGT-licensed timber products. The EU commits to allow imports of FLEGT-licensed timber from Liberia to enter the EU market without additional checks.

Liberian representatives on this committee are drawn from government institutions as well as from the private sector and civil society. The European Union is represented by the EU Delegation to Liberia and officials from the European Commission in Brussels.

The Forestry Development Authority is a state corporation established by an act of the Legislature in 1976 with the mandate to sustainably manage and conserve all forest resources for the benefit of present and future generations. The Forestry Development Authority’s mandate is to sustainably manage and conserve all forest resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

The European Union is made up of 28 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of over 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders, a press release from FDA said.

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