By participating in the Lao EU-FLEGT process, Lao PDR could grasp various benefits on political, economic and environmental aspects.
Participating in a FLEGT VPA is:
- an important indicator of success in implementing the economic restructuring through opening and connecting the country regionally and internationally, with the newest step of adapting and advancing Lao PDR by reforming the wood processing industry in consistence with international regulations and principles.
- a reflection of Lao PDR’s intent to turn to modern industry. Participating in a FLEGT VPA will help Lao PDR to equitably export timber and timber products into the EU market.
- is a condition for the Lao PDR to be able to improve relevant policies, laws, and regulations to be in compliance with the core parts of FLEGT VPA including international principals and regulations.
- an excellent opportunity for Lao PDR to improve the management of timber within the country and to be able to integrate the work of timber management and legal timber trade with other countries in the region and globally under relevant agreements.
Participating in a FLEGT VPA creates the economic conditions of:
- increased opportunity for the wood product industry to gain greater access to the EU market.
- domestic and foreign investment in Lao wood product industry, as well as promoting the development of skilled labour, standards, design, and marketing for the business sector to be able to respond to the needs of the EU market.
- adding value to the wood products prior to export, resulting in increased profit for companies along with assurance of creating an environment where businesses compete within the legal and fair system of governance.
- increased revenue for the government from an expansion of the wood processing industry and the legal timber business.
Participating in a FLEGT VPA will promote socio-environmental conditions as follows:
- Promote effective forest management, create sustainability of forest resources and also create the conditions for communities to participate in conservation of nature.
- Ensure the decrease of negative impacts from climate change and decrease the release of greenhouse gas pollution from forest destruction and degradation. (REDD),
- Ensure the implementation of the Lao PDR’s Forest Strategy from now until the year 2020 to strive to expand forest cover to 70%,
- Create opportunities to improve the capacity of Lao workers, starting with creating and developing labour skills with the support of donors in preparation for joining a FLEGT VPA
- Decrease the negative impacts that result from timber extraction and wood processing on the people whose livelihoods depend on forests and forest products.
- Promote and raise awareness among people to live in harmony with the natural environment and protect biodiversity through awareness of the use of forest products and legal timber-based goods.
- Promote the inclusion of multiple stakeholders in managing forest and the timber trade to make forest management and the timber trade legal, fair, clear, and transparent.
However, parallel with the benefits, there are some challenges:
- Laos’ participation in a VPA with the EU may result in the need to revise some legislation and mechanisms related to the wood processing industry in order to comply with international regulations and to assure timber legality, especially from forest sources and pre-export processing. However, these revisions will only need to be implemented after the VPA has been signed.
- Government authorities, the private sector and civil society organisations from local to national levels need to strengthen capacity and to improve relevant legislation once the VPA has been signed. Careful decision-making is necessary to facilitate such changes.