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Malaysian timber set to get easy access into EU (Posted: 4 December 2008 )

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is on track towards a trade deal that would see the country's timber products getting unrestricted access into the European Union (EU) market. EU ambassador Vincent Piket said the Forest Law Enforcement Gover- nance and Trade Voluntary Part- nership Agreement (VPA) would essentially assure EU member countries that Malaysian timber products were sourced legally. He said Malaysia was set to become the first country in Asia to work such a trade deal that would give the country a comparative advantage. "Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin realises the benefits of the VPA for the Malaysian timber sector," said Piket after meeting timber industry officials here yesterday. Malaysia's timber exports to the EU amount to some RM2.5bil annually and Sabah's share is about 20% to 25%. Piket said negotiations were now focused on Malaysia's legality assessment on how its timber is produced. "The system is good but there are still improvements to be made," he said. Citing an example, he said that when a forest plantation licence was granted, environmental issues needed to be addressed such as the need for an environmental impact assessment. "Transparency is the key word in such matters," Piket said.