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April 11, 2017

Liberia and the EU signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement

Liberia and the EU signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement

The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Liberia and the European Union (EU) was signed on April 7, 2017, through the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC).

As reported by All Africa, JIC also oversees implementation of the First Law Enforcement Conference and Trade (FLEGT) and the VPA between Liberia and the EU.

The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. It aims to ensure that all timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country such as Liberia, comply with the laws of that country. It aims at improving forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Liberia to the EU.

 Besides promoting trade in legal timber, the VPA aims at the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement. Liberia and the EU negotiated the VPA between 2009 and 2011 and the talks included representatives of Liberian civil society organizations, the private sector, and government ministries and agencies.

The EU ratified the VPA in 2012 and Liberia ratified it in 2013. They are now implementing the commitments they made in the agreement. Once Liberia has implemented a timber legality assurance system and other commitments outlined in the VPA, it will export to the EU only verified legal timber products accompanied by FLEGT licenses. FLEGT-licensed timber products from Liberia will be able to enter the EU market without undergoing the due diligence checks required by the EU Timber Regulation, All Africa reported.

By now, the VPA has already had positive outcome by improving the transparency of the forestry industry. The country is still working to achieve the FLEGT licensing too.

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