This is the Malaysia update for Forest watch special: VPA update November 2016.
Official VPA status: in negotiation since 2007
The VPA process is still stalled due to the refusal of Sarawak to enter into the negotiations (see previous VPA updates). The recent promulgation by Japan of a new law addressing imports of illegally-sourced timber – Sarawak exports significant volume of timber products to Japan – won’t create an incentive for Sarawak to change its position. Indeed the new law establishes a registration system for companies that want to be recognized as legal wood suppliers, and registered companies are required to conduct due diligence, but participation in the registration system is voluntary. Fifteen NGOs have highlighted in a joint letter sent to Japan at the occasion of the G7 summit the serious weaknesses in Japan’s new law intended to stop the trade in illegal timber and outlined the measures that the Japanese government should take to ensure their legislation has a positive impact on the illegal timber trade. In the meantime, illegal timber from Malaysia continues to be exported to the EU; the UK and the Netherlands being two of the main export destinations. The Dutch Procurement policy has accepted FSC International, PEFC International and granted a temporary permit to the Malaysian Timber Certification System (MTCS – PEFC Malaysia) which expired in July 2016. The Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC) had planned to make a visit to Malaysia by the end of April to check on the ground whether the MTCS system has improved and intended to report the outcomes back to the Parliament but the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities did not approve it. While MTCC has not proven to comply with the Dutch criteria and has not cooperated with TPAC, temporary acceptance of MTCS has formally been extended until 2nd of December 2016. There will be a parliamentary debate in the Netherlands on these issues.
This is an entry from the latest Forest Watch special VPA update, an occasional publication by LoggingOff and Fern. The VPA update provides a roundup of developments across countries involved in VPA processes, from a civil society perspective. This edition is from November 2016.