Lao govt agencies mull strengthened timber management measures

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Lao government aims to export only wooden furniture and other products made from legally sourced timber which can be tracked overseas.

Government agencies held a national consultation workshop yesterday to discuss the final draft of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s decision on the management and monitoring of timber inputs and outputs in wood processing and the sector.

“This decision is an important step in strengthening the timber supply chain control in wood processing and trade, and is a direct link to support Prime Minister’s Decree 15 which strengthens timber management and suspends all illegal timber trade activities,” Deputy Director General of the ministry’s Department of Industry and Handicraft, Mr Somphong Soulivanh, said.

“When the decision is complete, the system of supply chain control will show the source of the timber, and track it through the operators who trade, transport and process the timber to ensure that all timber products are in compliance with Lao law,” he added.

During the national consultation, the ministry collected feedback from other government agencies for the finalisation of the decision.

The input from other state agencies and provincial industry and commerce sectors will be used to revise and agree on critical points of the decision.

The decision has been under development since early 2016 and will support strengthening management and monitoring of timber supply from wood processing companies and traders until reaching sales on domestic or foreign markets.

It will mandate timber processors and traders to perform supply chain control, and set up an internal material accounting system for timber products entering and leaving operators’ premises.

Processors are required to establish reports on timber recovery for all relevant processing stages, to be able to report to relevant state control entities.

The policy will include not only the process for monitoring the balance of timber input and output through the business operator’s records but also clear mechanisms for monitoring agencies to inspect traders and suppliers and review their compliance.

The ministry’s decision is an important part of the Timber Legality Assurance System. It is being developed with the support of the component “Support to the Lao-EU FLEGT Process” of the German Development Cooperation programme Protection and Sustainable Use of Forest Ecosystems and Biodiversity and implemented by GIZ.