Ho Chi Minh city (30th November 2016) – Today NEPCon  and SFMI  held a workshop to help support the legal timber trade in Vietnam. European law requires European companies to demonstrate that the timber they import into EU market complies with all laws in its country of harvest . Vietnamese companies that can demonstrate that the timber they use complies with local laws will find it substantially easier to export to Europe. At the same time Vietnam has recently completed negotiations with the EU on a VPA  meaning Vietnamese companies will have to comply with all relevant local laws before they can export timber products to the EU.
The workshop is part of a three-year project  working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Vietnam, during which we have:
- developed a toolkit to help Vietnamese companies comply with relevant requirements and communicated this with European buyers. The toolkit contains 18 tools, including guidance documents, checklists, and templates that are ready for use. We are making all the tools freely available to all Vietnamese companies.
- trained Vietnamese companies and organisations on how to use our toolkit. We five training courses to more than 40 organisations. They in turn trained over 150 SMEs.
- developed National Forestry Risk Profiles for Vietnam and the five other main countries that Vietnam imports timber from. The Risk Profiles will help Vietnamese timber companies assess legality risks when importing timber from these countries, which will help them be able to sell their products to Europe.
- conducted a survey to gauge the level of awareness and understanding of European timber legality requirements among SMEs and the organisations that work with them.
- conducted assessments of the readiness of 20 Vietnamese SMEs to meet FLEGT
“The toolkit provided by the project is very useful and helps enterprises to evaluate and manage the timber sources”, said Mr Huynh Van Cuong, Director of Ngan Dai Son, an SME specialising in children’s furniture in Dong Nai Province.
“The participants were equipped with knowledge on timber legality, the Timber Regulation of the EU and requirements of FLEGT, and especially how to use the tools provided to assess the readiness and prepare enterprises for FLEGT’s requirements”, said Ms. Phan Tran Hong Van, Office Manager of Vietnam Rubber Association said after attending a training workshop.
“We are incredibly thankful for the support and enthusiastic engagement of the Vietnamese SMEs and CSOs we are working with and hope that many here can benefit from our work,” said Ms Ann Weddle, Project Manager from NEPCon.
The tools listed above and the key presentations from the workshop are freely accessible at flegt-tools.org/toolkit-and-training-centre/.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
- Nguyen Thi Thuy Duong, Communications Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, +84 915667935
Notes for editors
 NEPCon (Nature Economy and People Connected) is an international non-profit organisation that works to build capacity and commitment for mainstreaming sustainability. For over 20 years, we have worked to foster sustainable land use and responsible trade in forest commodities. We do this through innovation projects, capacity building and sustainability services.
A self-managing division of NEPCon promotes and delivers our certification services. Surplus from certification activities supports the development and implementation of NEPCon’s non-profit activities.
To support legal timber trade, NEPCon makes its LegalSourceTM Due Diligence System freely available. NEPCon is recognised by the EU as a Monitoring Organisation under the EU Timber Regulation. Learn more about NEPCon at http://www.nepcon.org
 SFMI (Research Institute for Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification) is a Vietnamese NGO working on forest science and related topics.
Founded in 2006, under the Vietnamese Union of Science and Technology Science, SFMI has contributed significantly to forest management and certification in Vietnam. The details of projects and research conducted by SFMI can be found at http://sfmi.org.vn/.
 The project is called “Increasing capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to implement FLEGT requirements”, and is co-funded by the European Union and NEPCon. It was launched in March 2014 and will end in Feb 2017.
 The EU published its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in 2003, with the aim of combatting illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving forest governance and promoting trade in legally-produced timber.
The FLEGT Action Plan has two significant parts:
- the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which entered into force on 3 March 2013. The Regulation makes it illegal to place any timber on the market in the EU which was illegal in its country of origin. It obliges European companies to have to conduct due diligence on the timber they import into EU market to assess the risks that the timber was illegal in its country of harvest and to mitigate those risks.
- Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs). A VPA is a voluntary trade agreement between the EU and a timber-producing country to promote trade in legal timber and help to ensure only legally harvested timber can be imported into the EU from these countries. Once a VPA is fully implemented, the country will issue FLEGT licenses for exports of wood products to document that they meet all relevant local laws. If a license is in place, EU companies do not have to conduct any due diligence. The EU and Vietnam finished negotiating a VPA on 18 November 2016. The Agreement is expected to be signed by both parties in early 2017.