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US-Vietnam Agreement to Keep Supply Chain Free of Illegal Timber

 U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced an agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that addresses U.S. concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation. This is the first 301 investigation to address environmental concerns. (Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. §2411) grants the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) a range of responsibilities and authorities to investigate and take action to enforce U.S. rights under trade agreements and respond to certain foreign trade practices.)

For the past 12 months, the U.S. has undergone a lengthy investigation into harvested and traded timber coming out of Vietnam. "I commend Vietnam for its commitment to address our concerns regarding the importation and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded," said Tai in a statement. In the agreement, Vietnam has vowed 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.
  • Work with high-risk source countries to improve customs enforcement at the border and law enforcement collaboration.

This agreement may serve as the beginning of a comprehensive effort from both Indo-Pacific countries and others across the globe to enforce push back against the trading of illegal timber, Tai said. "Illegal timber in the supply chain damages the global environment and the natural resources on which we all depend, and is unfair to U.S. workers and businesses that avoid such timber."

—Bryan Mason, editorial associate
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Saturday, 23 October 2021