Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Myanmar seeks to export timber products to EU

YANGON - After banning timber exports, Myanmar is now working to export finished wood products to the European Union (EU), according to the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

To legally export wood products to the EU, the government has to become a member of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and through a voluntary partnership or VPA that includes commitments and action to halt trade in illegal timber.

On May 28, Win Tun, minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry, met with EU representative Isabel Faria De Almeida to request technical aid and open more training courses.

The government will sell 60,000 tonnes of teak this fiscal year and inviting an open tender system to local entrepreneurs to export plywood and finished wood rather than exporting the raw product.

Over 300,000 tonnes of teak were exported in previous years, much of it illegally, and the government says it earned US$ 947 million in timber exports last year, according to reports released by the Ministry of Commerce.

Uncontrolled and illegal exports of lucrative teak and other hardwood has led to increased deforestation in Myanmar, leading the government to halt timber exports on March 31.

Despite these difficulties, international firms are now eyeing to invest in local wood based furniture and industry and the government is keen on being able to expand local timber industry.

Myanmar has illegally exported 16.5 million logs worth US$ 5.7 billion starting from 2001 to 2013, due to bribery and corruption, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The EIA’s report also says that Myanmar exported 72 percent of its timber illegally whereas the Ministry of Environment and Forestry insisted it was only 28 percent.

At present, the state-owned Myanmar Timber Enterprise is the only body supervising local timber extraction.

source: Eleven Myanmar
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