Preparatory VPA negotiations for Myanmar suspended

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In November last year, a delegation from the EU visited Myanmar and met with members of the Multi Stakeholders Group (MSG) formed specifically to negotiate a VPA with the EU. The EU delegation also met with representatives of the Forest Department and Myanmar Forest Certification Committee (MFCC), reported ITTO.

According to those participating in the meetings, their understanding was that the EU has suspended the preparatory phase of VPA negotiations with Myanmar. 

According the Frontier Myanmar, Britain has cited the crisis over Rakhine State for the decision to suspend funding for Myanmar’s effort to join a EU initiative aimed at combatting illegal logging and promoting effective forest governance.

The result of this is that the MSG has to act unaided to formulate a roadmap to strengthen forest governance and law enforcement. This, says an analyst, can be interpreted as the immediate prospects for FLEGT licensed timber from Myanmar are dim.

In the absence of FLEGT licensing the alternative course is to build another mechanism to satisfy the due diligence requirements of the EUTR so as to maintain the market for Myanmar timbers in the EU.

It is understood that work on a mechanism to meet legality verification requirements in the EU will be supported by FAO through a two year project. However, analysts write “there is no official announcement, from either Myanmar or the EU to confirm suspension of support for VPA negotiations”.

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