Lao-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade towards Voluntary Partnership Agreement Process (Lao-EU FLEGT VPA)

Structure

The FLEGT VPA process is led by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry who serves as the Chairman of the National Steering Committee for the FLEGT process. The minister works with close support from the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (who is also the Chief Negotiator), the Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce and the Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. The National Steering Committee has been set up based on Decision No. 65/PMO.

The National Steering Committee is made up of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (Chairman), the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (Chief Negotiator), 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 Support and Development Committee (NSDC) and the Technical Working Group (TWG) for support of FLEGT VPA negotiations have been established based on Decision 1915/MAF.

The FLEGT Standing Office which functions as a secretariat for the Lao FLEGT process is located in the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI)/Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It is directly supervised by the Director General of DOFI who is the FLEGT Focal Point for Laos.

National Steering Committee

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Study and implement appropriate measures to take the lead in the preparation process of FLEGT VPA.
  3. Establish a negotiation team, design methods, format and the implementation for VPA negotiation round between the Lao PDR and EU.
  4. 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.
  5. Agree on the implementation of FLEGT between the Lao PDR and EU including the annual work plan and activities in the pilot provinces.
  6. Supervise, monitor and inspect the implementation of FLEGT between the Lao PDR and EU including the annual work plan and activities.
  7. Introduce Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) and Timber Legality Definition (TLD).
  8. 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.
  9. Disseminate the progress and results of the negotiation rounds to relevant agencies to elaborate them in each period of time.
  10. Summarise and submit the report of its activities to the government frequently.

Negotiation Support and Development Committee

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Negotiation Team

The Negotiation team drafts a legality definition based on inputs from the multi-stakeholder consultation process. The concrete approach differs from country to country.

The Vice Minister of MAF has been appointed as the Chief Negotiator to lead the Lao delegation in the negotiations. The Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce and the Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment have been selected as Vice Chief Negotiators. The Director General of Department of Forest Inspection functions as the secretariat for the Negotiation Team. Representatives of the Negotiation Support and Development Committee and the Technical Working Group are selected to be members of the Negotiation Team and join according to the topics of each negotiation.

Technical Working Group

To support the FLEGT VPA negotiations between Lao PDR and the EU, Technical Working Groups (TWGs) have been set up based on Decision No. 1915/MAF.

The TWG provide recommendations on VPA negotiation elements (legality definition, legality assurance system, domestic market). In some cases the TWG gave comments and held discussions on the Timber Legality Definition, in particular conversion areas, timber processing and timber trade. Furthermore, the scope of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) was discussed to further improve it. The TWG also discuss and prepare upcoming steps for so-called Joint Expert Meetings.

Thematic Expert Group

The Thematic Expert Groups (TEGs) comprise individuals and organisations who have specific expertise on certain areas along the timber supply chain and therefore get involved into the elaboration of the Timber Legality Definition (TLD).

Along the timber supply chain, six different TEGs have been established to discuss and analyse the following topics relevant to the definition of timber legality:

  • Occupational safety and health in wood processing companies
  • Log landing from point of harvest to processing factory (log landing 1-3)
  • Smallholder and industrial plantations
  • National chain-of-custody system and value-adding production for wood processing industry
  • Export procedures from processing factory (log landing 3) to point of export
  • Utilisation of timber from village use forest

Each TEG analyses existing laws and regulations to identify which ones are most relevant for defining timber legality for Lao PDR. Also possible gaps in the legal framework are being identified. Based on this recommendation are given whether improvement on laws and regulations is needed. After draft TLDs from all TEGs have been put together, field tests will be carried out to assess the practicability of verification against the TLD. Findings from the pilot areas will be fed back into the process of finalizing the TLD.

The six TEGs are:


Occupational safety and health in wood processing companies

The main objectives of this Thematic Expert Group on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) are to:

  • Based on relevant existing laws and regulations, draft TLD for OSH in the wood processing sector
  • Identify gaps in existing laws and regulations of Lao PDR for OSH in the wood processing sector
  • Improve OSH in the wood processing sector in order to minimise work accident occurrences and occupational diseases caused by unsafe work practices

The Thematic Expert Group on Occupational Safety and Health has the lead role to facilitate the stakeholder consultation process and establish and agree upon the legality definition. Member organisations involved in this TLD development include:

  • Lao Furniture Association
  • Lao Wood Processing Association
  • Lao Trade Union
  • Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Department of Forest Inspection
  • Department of Hygiene and Prevention
  • Department of Industry and Handicraft
  • Department of Safety and Health

If you are interested in this TEG, please contact:

Mr. Khamphat ONLASY

Head of Division

Occupational Safety and Health Division

Department of Labour Management

Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare

Phone: +856 21 213007

Mobile: +856 20 22240553

Email: khamphaton@yahoo.com


Log landing from point of harvest to processing factory (log landing 1-3)

Under the lead of the Division of Technical Standard Development, Department of Forestry (DOF), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the TEG on Log Landing 1-3 aims to:

  • Draft the TLD for log landing 1 and 2 of production forest (excluding log landing 3).
  • Test and present the TLD to the pilot province in Khammouane province.
  • Present this part of the TLD to the TWG to be included into the overall TLD as a basis for the VPA negotiation with EU.

The current members of TEG on Log Landing 1-3 include:

  • Department of Forest Inspection
  • Department of Forestry
  • Forest Technique Standard Division – Depart of Forestry
  • Department of Land Planning and Development
  • WWF

If you are interested to join this TEG or need further information, please contact:

Mr. Phomma PATHOUMMAVONG

Acting Head of Division

Division of Technical Standard Development

Department of Forestry

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Phone: +856 20 55601729

Email: p.pathoummavong@yahoo.com


Smallholder and industrial plantations

The Thematic Expert Group on Plantation looks into smallholder and industrial plantations in the framework of Timber Legality Definition development. The main objectives of this TEG on Plantation is to:

  • analyse the legal framework for plantation timber (smallholder and industrial plantation) as part of defining timber legality.
  • identify and field-test improvements in the plantation timber supply chain, especially in relation to plantation registration simplification.

The Plantation Promotion and Investment Division, Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has the lead on this TEG.

Other agencies involved in this TEG on Plantation are:

  • Forest Technique Standard Division – Depart of Forestry
  • Sayaboury Plantation Promotion and Investment Unit
  • Sayaboury Provincial Office for Natural Resources and Environment
  • Sayaboury Provincial Office for Forest Inspection
  • Import and Export Section – Sayaboury Provincial Office for Industry and Commerce
  • Luang Prabang Provincial Forestry Section
  • Khok O Furniture Paklay
  • Vanith Furniture Paklay
  • WWF
  • Lao Biodiversity Association
  • Green Community Development Association
  • Community Development Association (CODA)
  • Sayaboury Plantation Owners
  • Part-time representation from Ministry of Finance (MOF) (especially the tax and custom department), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MOPI) and Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT).

If you are interested in this TEG, please contact:

Mr. Bounlieng SINGVICHIT

Deputy Head

Plantation Promotion and Investment Division

Department of Forestry

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Phone: +856-20-9665 9995


Private Sector Engagement

Main objective of this TEG is to develop a national chain-of-custody system which will be a core element of the future Timber Legality Assurance System. Additionally the group looks into strengthening value-adding production for the Lao wood processing industry.

If you are interested to join this TEG, please contact:

Mr. Thongsavanh SOULIGNAMAT

President

Lao Furniture Association

Phone: +856-20-5444 3333

Email: lao.furniture@hotmail.com


Village Use Forest

Village forest management aims to protect and develop the forest to be a sustainable timber supply source for villagers and communities as well as an income source to improve their livelihoods. Therefore, the development of the Timber Legality Definition (TLD) on village use forest is crucial and necessary to be implemented, and this requires a multi-stakeholder involvement throughout the process.

The Village Forestry and Non-Timber Forest Product Management Division is the lead agency for the development with the objectives to:

  • Identify and consolidate laws, regulations and guidelines, including potential gaps, related to the legal and sustainable timber utilization in forest and forest land.
  • Assess potential commercial use of timber in certain cases by local communities and villagers.
  • Draft TLD for the use of timber from village use forest and clarify the scope of use.
  • Establish an understanding of the current and future use of forest and legal implementation of related laws, regulations for technical staff, operators and local villagers.

Current members of this TEG include:

  • Village Forest and Non-Timber Forest Product Management Division, Department of Forestry (DOF)
  • REED Office (DOF)
  • Forest Inventory and Planning Division (DOF)
  • Promotion and Planning Division (DOF)
  • Forest Production and Harvesting Division (DOF)
  • Department of Land Management
  • Department of Forest Resources Management
  • Department of State Asset Management
  • Faculty of Forestry – National University of Laos
  • Forestry Training Center
  • Vientiane Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office
  • Sangthong Forestry Office
  • Representative from Attapeu Provincial Assembly
  • Lao CSO FLEGT
  • WWF
  • Village Focus International (VFI)

If you are interested to join this TEG or need further information, please contact:

Dr. Oupakone ALOUNSAVATH

Director

Village Forestry and Non-Timber Forest Product Management Division

Department of Forestry

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Phone: +856-20-2222 9393

Email: dofadm@gmail.com

FLEGT Standing Office

The FLEGT Standing Office is a secretariat established to provide coordination support to all stakeholders working with FLEGT, including the EU.

The FLEGT Standing Office has been set up and is equipped with trained international and national staff, who work closely together on the preparation of a future VPA.

As an additional entity to the Department of Forest Inspection, the Standing Office has the important task to engage, coordinate and build bridges between all relevant stakeholders.

It publishes regular newsletters and press releases to keep stakeholders and the public informed about the process and activities of the Lao-EU FLEGT Process.