Following the agreement on the development of a new format for bilateral technical exchange (TechEx) between European Union (EU) and Laos in relation to FLEGT VPA negotiation, the European Forest Institute (EFI) and Laos organized the first Technical Exchange Meeting (TechEx-1) for preparing the upcoming 5th Joint Expert Meeting (JEM-5) towards initialing the Lao-EU timber trade agreement “Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA)”.
With technical support from GIZ project Protection and Sustainable use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity (ProFEB), the meeting took place virtually on 18 May 2021 with participation of experts from European Forest Institute, an advisory body to EU, and the Lao counterpart represented by experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), Ministry of Labor and Social Welfares (MLSW), Lao Civil Society Organizations (Lao-CSO) and the private sector.
During the meeting, both sides discussed and clarified on the technical and legal ambiguities and deficiencies that appeared in the draft TLAS annexes. Furthermore, Laos clarified their position on the future compliance verification and licensing function, which have been tested in the designated piloting sites.
At the end of the meeting, almost all issues were clarified and agreed upon, whereas the remaining open points will be discussed in the upcoming TechEx meetings. Finally, the TechEx format was discussed and adopted as a semi-official platform for related bilateral technical exchanges.
Although, the TechEx format was applied at the first time on a trial basis, the TechEx-1 was deemed by both sides to have resulted in a satisfactory progress and it is, therefore, agreed to be used also for the following exchanges.