Strengthening the Lao wood processing industry is part of the government’s economic strategy to ensure that more value is added to the country’s forest resources. This announcement was made by the Department of Industry and Handicraft (DOIH), Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), on 4 November 2015 during a workshop on the study “Development of the Wood Processing Sector in Lao PDR through re-engineering and re-organisation programs with the private sector”. At the meeting representatives from government agencies, private sector, civil society and the National University of Laos discussed results and recommendations of the study, which has been prepared as part of the Lao EU-FLEGT process (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) to advance the wood processing sector in Laos.
“Improving value adding wood processing is crucial to enhance the competitiveness of the Lao timber industry. This is the ‘entry ticket’ to generate new export opportunities in the ASEAN Economic Community and other export markets such as Europe, the U.S., Japan and China for legal, high quality products.”, said Mr. Manohack Rasachack, Director General of DOIH, MOIC. “To achieve this, the supply of raw materials has to be improved, the qualification of staff and workers in the wood processing industry has to be enhanced, the sector associations need to be strengthened, and individual companies need to get access to better market and product information as well as have to improve their market access”, he added.
“The developed improvement plans for pilot companies and the wood processing sector strategy, when implemented, shall yield various benefits, even though only the most pressing issues for the industry have been focused on”, said Mr. Heiko Woerner, senior international adviser to the German Development Cooperation project ‘Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT Process’ (ProFLEGT), implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). “The benefits include increased value added in the wood processing industry through increased down-stream processing, increased efficiency of the companies and international competitiveness, increased material yield, increased awareness for and use of timber from legal sources including Chain of Custody procedures for supporting a sustainable management of resources. Final aim of strengthening the wood processing industry is to increase export opportunities for finished wood products as well as the generation and retention of jobs,” he added.
In the framework of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation process, the need of strengthening the international competitiveness of the Lao wood processing companies is being identified by the Government of Laos as an important requirement to achieve any relevant impact for the forestry sector through this bilateral trade agreement.
As part of the Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) to combat illegal logging globally, the European Union (EU) is concluding Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with timber producing countries. A VPA is an international trade agreement to reduce illegal wood harvesting and promote legal timber trade.
Laos has started to negotiate such an agreement with the EU, with assistance from the GIZ project Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT process (ProFLEGT).
ProFLEGT is a joint initiative of the Lao Government and the German Development Cooperation. It is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (through the FLEGT Standing Office under the supervision of the Department of Forest Inspection, DOFI), Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as other Government agencies, civil society organisations, academia and timber processing industry.
You can download the press release HERE