Source: Timber Trades Journal (TTJ)

The US has decided against taking trade action against Vietnam after investigating illegal harvesting and trade of illegal timber in the country.

Image credit :Taylor Simpson | Unsplash

Image credit :Taylor Simpson | Unsplash

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai reached an agreement with Vietnam that addresses US concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation. This is the first 301 investigation to address environmental concerns.

The US is believed to be the world’s largest importer of Vietnamese wood products.

The Agreement secures commitments that will help keep illegally harvested or traded timber out of the supply chain and protect the environment and natural resources.  Ambassador Tai determined that the Agreement provides a satisfactory resolution of the matter subject to investigation and that no trade action is warranted at this time.  Going forward, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) will monitor Vietnam’s implementation of the Agreement.

“I commend Vietnam for its commitment to address our concerns regarding the importation and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai.  “With this Agreement, Vietnam will provide a model – both for the Indo-Pacific region and globally – for comprehensive enforcement against illegal timber.

“USTR looks forward to working with Vietnam to deepen collaboration and information exchange, including through a newly created Timber Working Group.”

The Agreement contains multiple commitments by Vietnam on issues related to illegal timber, including commitments to improve its Timber Legality Assurance System; keep confiscated timber out of the commercial supply chain; verify the legality of domestically harvested timber regardless of export destination; and work with high-risk source countries to improve customs enforcement at the border and law enforcement collaboration.

“USTR’s first use of Section 301 in this investigation shows the strength of using this tool to address concerns regarding environmental risks or the enforcement of environmental laws,” she said.

The USTR investigation was initiated in October 2020 under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.