Conference on “Vietnamese wood exports to European Union, the United State: Regulations and Implementation” 

Time: 8h00 - 11h30 Friday, June 25th, 2010

Place: Tan My Dinh 2 Hotel, No.32A-34 Bui Thi Xuan Street, No.1 District, Ho Chi Minh City

On June 25th, 2010, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) coordinated with Miller & Chevalier Chartered held a seminar “Vietnamese wood exports to European Union, the United State: Regulations and Implementation” in Ho Chi Minh city. More than 80 participants from business associations, enterprises, press agents and related agencies attended the seminar.

This event belongs to VCCI’s Program “Enterprises and International Trade Policies” in the framework of Project MUTRAP III (Multilateral Trade Assistance Project, Component III EU – Vietnam) sponsored by European Union.

In the opening speech, Mr. Tran Ngoc Liem, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Ho Chi Minh city, gave an overview of Vietnam’s wood exports in recent times, emphasizing the importance of the two major markets - EU and U.S. Mr. Liem also warned enterprises of new Regulations on wood imports to these countries and the necessity of compliance to avoid risks. 

According to Mr. Nguyen Ton Quyen, General Secretary of Vietnam Timber and Forest product Association, in the coming time, Vietnamese enterprises would have to cope with many difficulties relating to origin and declaration requirements for a wide range of products made from wood or containing wood exporting to the EU and US. While the EU has issued the FLEGT Action Plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) which will be in force in Jan 2012, the U.S Lacey Act - a section of the Farm Bill - was adopted and effective in 2008 and continue to be clarified the implementation.

Main speakers of the Seminar, Mr. Jay Eizenstat and Mr. John Magus from Miller & Chevalier Chartered made a presentation introducing basic contents of the Lacey Act amendments of the U.S. The Lacey Act was designed to combat trade in illegally-sourced wildlife, fish and some plants, including trees/timber. The 2008 Amendments expanded the Act’s application to a wider range of plants and plant products such as paper, flooring, furniture, etc.

The two lawyers also gave specific examples to instruct enterprises how to fill in the declaration form as required by the Lacey Act . Accordingly, importers of all covered products are required to submit a declaration form that  provides: i) the scientific name of the plant, ii) the value of the importation, iii) quantity of the plant, iv) name of the country from which the plant was harvested. Although importers bear the ultimate responsibility to fill in the declaration but exporters have to provide information. Besedies, there are two elements of a Lacey Act violation for international shipments: i) illegally-sourced plant; ii) trade of the illegally-sourced plant in U.S. interstate or foreign commerce. Penalties for violations are: forfeiture of goods, criminal fine and even imprisonment for up to 5 years. 

Due to strict regulations, the lawyers gave some compliance recommendations for Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters: i) find the scientific name, genus, species  and the country of origin of the wood (if purchased from suppliers); ii) use proper recordkeeping for inventory tracking and management; iii) provide importer with list of all possible genus/species and country of origin for all products

Finally, speakers concluded that in comparison with the EU FLEGT Action , the US Lacey Act is much more complicated and difficult to comply with. Therefore, Vietnamese timber exporters need to make sure whether a product is subject to this Act and if any, how to comply with.

The final part of the seminar was Q&A with a lot of questions raised by participants and answered properly by speakers. After the seminar, enterprises were equipped with basic knowledge and updated information of the EU and US wood import requirements to have proper strategy when exporting wood products to these countries.

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