TechEx-3 concluded focusing on VPA transparency and legally verifiable timber importation

Following TechEx 1 and 2, on 17 June 2021 the Lao and EU TechEx teams held the TechEx-3 meeting virtually to proceed with the Lao FLEGT process along the VPA roadmap. Discussions focused on two main technical components of the VPA, namely (i) Annex on Public disclosure of information, which is also referred to as “Transparency Annex” and (ii) Due diligence procedures for Imports of Timber and Timber Products into Lao PDR, which is an essential part of TLAS. In addition, the meeting recapped the action points and the respective progresses made during the TechEx 1-3, indicating what has been completed and which technical discussions will have to be continued.

From the constructive exchanges between two sides, the meeting came to the following key points of agreement:

  1. The modality and role of public disclosure of information in a transparent VPA as presented by EFI has been well understood and is regarded as important for access to relevant VPA information. Consequently, it was agreed that the development of this annex must be driven by stakeholders’ requirements for information disclosure and the requirements of information disclosure from the legal framework. Laos agreed to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) of all relevant stakeholders from the public, private and civil society sector to address the issue of information disclosure with necessary technical assistances from GIZ/ProFEB and EFI.
  2. Similarly, the concept notes on due diligence for imports of timber and timber products into Lao PDR was considered a necessary requirement in the Lao TLAS, especially the TLD6 in order to become consistent with European Timber Regulations (EUTR). The comprehensive presentation on the concept given by DIMEX/MOIC during the TechEx deepened the participants’ understanding of the concept, particularly regarding the process, principles, and the related actions to be taken. These have led to the follow up actions: (i) intensifying the related existing knowledge and experiences through the engagement of an international consultancy and internal interaction via TWG (ii) exchanging practical experiences with other VPA-countries;  (iii)  updating related regulations to reflect the recent timber import experiences; and (iv) develop simple technical guidance for legal timber import criteria;
  3. From the recap presented by FSO/ProFEB the meeting recognised that progress made in the series of TechEx 1-3 was significant, while agreeing on the lists of tasks to be performed until JEM-5 which is tentatively scheduled in November 2021.
  4. Finally, the meeting agreed to share the revised Lao-EU negotiation roadmap with the EU for comments.

As of all details mentioned above, it is reasonable to conclude that TechEx-3 does not only intensify achievements, but also brighten ways forwards.