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Spanish perspectives on FLEGT and VPA partner trade 

The EU IMM Barcelona Trade Consultation gave voice to a range of Spanish trade opinion on prospects for VPA partner timber and market requirements for legality and sustainability assurance.

Among key issues raised at the October 7 event was the regional administration of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) in Spain. Delegates questioned Spanish Competent Authority representatives on the operation and effectiveness of its approach. 

Concerns were also expressed about ongoing lack of recognition of EU FLEGT licensing on a level with certification in most EU national government timber procurement policy. In addition, the more than 30 delegates, representing operators, traders, federations, and manufacturers, shared their own timber purchasing criteria, and views on the reasons for and ways to address the decline in EU demand for timber from VPA partner countries. 

Insights from speakers on development of the FLEGT VPA process in African countries also sparked discussion on the progress of the initiative overall and, again, the relation of FLEGT with certification.

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Delegates in discussion

Like the four previous IMM national trade consultations, the Barcelona event was very much a trade forum. Presentations delivered timber market analysis, findings of latest IMM reports on timber procurement policy and FLEGT VPA updates. These then provided a stepping off point for workshops for delegates to express their views, raise questions and share strategies and solutions for the future of the market and FLEGT. 

Moderator Andrew Escott of the Global Timber Forum reiterated the message from earlier consultations, that the function of the IMM was not to promote the FLEGT initiative. “Its role is to provide objective monitoring and analysis of market trends, impacts and perceptions of FLEGT, which feeds back to the EU and FLEGT-engaged countries to inform development of the initiative,” he said. “That’s why we want your honest opinions; not just the positives, but also where you feel there is scope for change and improvement.”

Lead Consultant Sarah Storck said the EU IMM’s trade consultations themselves formed an essential part of its monitoring activities around the FLEGT VPA initiative and licensing. “They play a valuable role in developing our picture of trade perceptions of FLEGT, together with our annual EU trade surveys, and monitoring of VPA partner countries, their trade flows and trends in price, supply and production,” she said.

The consultation was held in association with Spanish Timber Trade Federation AEIM and the European Forestry Institute FLEGT Facility, taking place at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau complex, where the Facility is based (top picture).

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Tom ter Horst

EFI communications expert Tom ter Horst also highlighted the importance of trade input for the EU FLEGT initiative and wider forest policy. “The decisions we make today on forests and the environment are key for the lives of future generations,” he said. “But we can’t just sit here and tell people how important the forests are without talking to those involved day to day in the forest sector and the reality of business and purchasing decisions. The commercial sector is a fundamental part of this equation and from this exchange the hope is we will go away with more knowledge and ideas on how to maintain the forests and their environmental benefit.”

Click here for a summary of results of session 1 – Trends in the European tropical timber sector

Click here for a summary of results of session 2 – Recognising priorities and purchase dynamics for tropical wood products

Click here for a summary of results of session 3 – Business challenges and progress in VPA implementation in selected African VPA partner countries

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