The National Steering Committee is a special unit recently established by the Government of Lao PDR, with a mandate to coordinate, plan, and direct the Negotiation Team and the Technical Working Group in order to ensure a fruitful Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation process.
The National Steering Committee consists of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (Chairman); the Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce, the Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment; the Director General of the Department of Forest Inspection (Member of the NSC and the Head of the Negotiation Team); and other Directors General and Deputy Directors General of related departments.
The National Steering Committee has been set up based on Decision No. 65/PMO and meets on a six month or yearly basis.
The mandates for the National Steering Committee are:
- Suggest a proposal to the Vice Prime Minister who is responsible for economics and traffic to consider strategy, long-term plan, and annual plan on the preparation of FLEGT VPA negotiation and lead a fruitful implementation.
- Study and implement appropriate measures to take the lead in the preparation process of FLEGT VPA.
- Establish a negotiation team, design methods, format and the implementation for VPA negotiation round between the Lao PDR and EU.
- Consider agreements and steer the organizational structure, human resource placement for the implementation of FLEGT in an appropriate and effective manner particularly a negotiation team, National Support and Development Committee (NSDC), Technical Working Group and FLEGT Standing Office.
- Agree on the implementation of FLEGT between the Lao PDR and EU including the annual work plan and activities in the pilot provinces.
- Supervise, monitor and inspect the implementation of FLEGT between the Lao PDR and EU including the annual work plan and activities.
- Introduce Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) and Timber Legality Definition (TLD).
- Consider and endorse a preliminary draft of VPA as well as its annexes and propose to relevant ministries for further consideration and seek for the government’s approval.
- Disseminate the progress and results of the negotiation rounds to relevant agencies to elaborate them in each period of time.
- Summarise and submit the report of its activities to the government frequently.