The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of the European Union (EU) is an initiative aimed at ensuring the legality of timber imports to the EU. Timber exporting countries negotiate with the EU towards signing a VPA. Entering negotiation is voluntary, but if a VPA is signed it is a binding trade agreement.In Vietnam’s case, negotiations commenced in 2010.
The VPA codifies the legal framework of the timber country into a Legality Definition (LD) that determines the ‘legality’ of timber and a Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) that sets out the governance framework for assuring that timber and timber products meet the LD. In essence, a legality chain has to be maintained between steps from timber production, transport, processing and sale.