VCN – According to wood importers, many timber shipments that have arrived at Vietnamese ports cannot be cleared due to a lack of import permits issued by CITES Vietnam. In the context of a sharp decline in domestic consumption, and a sharp drop in wood prices, businesses face many difficulties, now they have to face more fees for storing containers, yards and many other fees.
According to the Vietnam Timber and Forest Products Association (VIFOREST), after the 19th Conference of Member States of the Convention on International Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES-COP19), CITES Secretariat has issued notice No. 2023/020 on the effect of the revised and supplemented CITES list. According to this announcement, the plant species added species of the genus Wood, Perfume and Mother of Pearl, which are common in Africa.
As is customary, during the 90-day waiting period, trade in these plants will still take place. CITES specifies that a pre-conventional specimen is a specimen obtained (harvested) prior to the date the CITES regulations apply to specific species included in the CITES Appendix. Thus, a pre-convention specimen is a specimen that has left its natural habitat before the date the CITES regulations were applied. This is also confirmed in Clause 17, Article 3 on the interpretation of terms of Decree 06/2019/ND-CP of the Government of Vietnam on the management of endangered, precious and rare forest plants and animals.
VIFOREST said that, in fact, there are many Vietnamese wood importers who have signed contracts with foreign partners and the timber has left the port of the exporting country to return to the destination ports of Vietnam before the date of the provisions of this Decree comes into force.
However, according to regulations, an application for an import permit requires an application for a permit and a copy of the document proving the pre-Convention specimen or a copy of the permit or certificate of the CITES Management Authority of the exporting country for pre-Convention specimens; or a copy of the CITES export permit, the certificate of hunting specimens issued by the competent authority of the exporting country, for hunting specimens.
Under this provision, the application for a license shall include an application for a license and a copy of the dossier evidencing the pre-Convention specimen. In which, bill of lading, phytosanitary certificate are legal documents to prove pre-convention specimens. In 2017, West African poplar wood was granted a CITES import license by the CITES Management Authority of Vietnam for a shipment of wood leaving the export port pending the application of CITES notice with the application for a license only including CITES permit application and bill of lading.
According to VIFOREST, in compliance with the announcement of the CITES Secretariat, many timber importers have applied for CITES import permits, including enterprises that have submitted pre-conventional CITES permits issued by the exporting country, but it is not accepted by CITES Management Authority of Vietnam. CITES Vietnam requires enterprises to present the CITES export license of the timber exporting country and has not provided a satisfactory explanation for the refusal of the enterprises’ dossiers.
This leads to the situation that timber that has arrived at Vietnamese ports cannot be cleared due to a lack of import permits issued by CITES Vietnam. In the context of a sharp decline in domestic consumption, a sharp drop in wood prices, and many difficulties for businesses, now wood importers have to pay more fees for storing containers, storage yards and many other fees.
Facing the above situation, VIFOREST proposed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the General Department of Forestry and the CITES Management Authority of Vietnam consider and issue CITES import permits for imported timber lots subject to CITES pre-convention to avoid timber importers from suffering great damage due to changes in CITES.
It should also be added that each year our country imports about one million m3 of wood from 20 African countries, mainly through European and Chinese traders. Implementing the Government’s Decree 102/2020/ND-CP detailing Vietnam’s timber legality assurance system (VNTLAS), Vietnam has pioneered the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on strengthening law enforcement, forest governance and trade in forest products (VPA/FLEGT).
In particular, the management of timber imports with risks related to countries in geographical areas has not been active and high-risk species has been tightened. Timber importers have also seriously implemented their due diligence (DDS) to ensure that imported timber is legal. Vietnam Customs has not detected illegal timber imported into Vietnam.