A historic trade agreement that further strengthens the fight against illegal logging, the VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement), was signed between Indonesia and the EU in Jakarta on May 4th. This is a big step forward for Indonesia to become a greener timber products supplier.
But as I look at the EU VPA I have to ask myself this … What about Japan? Japan and Indonesia issued a joint statement announcing an action plan for tackling illegal logging as early as 2003. Based on this action plan, the Japanese Forest Agency started to develop a TLAS (Timber Legality Assurance System) tool, working closely with Indonesian counterparts. After years of dedicated efforts by both sides, the system that will become a basis of the VPA with Japan will soon be ready for practical use.
On top of that, the Japanese government revised the Green Purchasing Law in 2006 to ensure that only wood and wood products with verified legality and sustainability are imported to Japan. Immediately after the enactment, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) adopted the standard. Each of APP’s major mills has established a code of conduct in accordance with the basic policy and guidelines of the Green Purchasing Law. The Japanese Forest Agency staff later told APP that it was the first foreign company to adhere to the regulation!
With two major buyer countries, the EU and Japan, demonstrating equal commitment to work in partnership with Indonesia to halt the trade of illegal timber products and instill confidence in buyers/importers that they know they are receiving only legal timber products, this is a sign we are entering a new age. Fear of illegal logging as being rampant in Indonesia once made the country a high risk for imports. But those days appear to be gone. The signals are strong that this stigma is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and we can all look forward to a more positive trade environment and partnership with Indonesia for years to come.
Tags: APP, Asia Pulp & Paper, Asia Pulp and Paper, forest certification, forest protection, Green Purchasing Law, illegal logging, Japan, pulp and paper industry, sustainability, sustainable forest management, VPA