The FLEGT-VPA agreement (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement) between the Republic of Indonesia and the European Union is in the context of implementation of a joint commitment to combat illegal logging and related trade and improve law enforcement and forest management through reorganization of trade mechanisms wood products between the two countries. With this agreement, only legal timber products are verified which are exported by Indonesia to the European Union; and only timber products that are guaranteed legality are accepted by the European Union market (28 countries) from Indonesia.
FLEGT-VPA is part of the EU action plan to tackle the practice of illegal logging and its associated trade. With this action plan, the European Union has a regulation called the EU-TR (European Union Timber Regulation – EUTR), where importers (commonly called operators) are only allowed to place legal wood products on the EU market. For this reason, each importer must carry out a due diligence process to prove that the products imported are from legal sources.
In this action plan the EU also invites supplier countries (their trading partners) to volunteer partnerships within the FLEGT-VPA framework. If the agreement is implemented, the supplier country will get (FLEGT-License) / FLEGT license from the European Union. With the FLEGT license, each product promised will be able to enter the European Union market without going through the due diligence process.
No due diligence is applied for importers if they import FLEGT licensed products; provide convenience to importers because it saves time and costs and obtains certainty that goods imported can enter the European Union because of the legality guaranteed. With this convenience, it is expected that importers will prefer FLEGT-License products compared to those without FLEGT-License, which will increase the demand for FLEGT-license products. Increasing demand will increase exports from the country.
Indonesia has begun negotiating with the EU since 2007. The Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) which is a soft approach policy in combating illegal logging; considered capable of meeting the EU-TR requirements for obtaining FLEGT-License. SVLK is Indonesia’s Forest Certification and Timber Legality Assurance System; which was built and developed through a multistakeholder approach based on applicable laws and regulations. The discussion on SVLK began in 2003. After going through a lengthy discussion, SVLK was then stipulated through Forestry Minister Regulation No. P38 / 2009 (most recently with the Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation No. P.30 / 2016) concerning the assessment of the performance of sustainable production forest management and verification of timber legality for permit holders, management rights or in private forests.
This regulation is mandatory for all business actors who utilize timber forest products from upstream (forest) to downstream (industry and traders). With this provision, every business actor must obtain a certificate, in accordance with the standards set. The certificate is proof of compliance with applicable regulations. With this certificate, exporters can export using V-Legal Documents. V-Legal documents are documents that state that the products exported are legally produced products.
Negotiations within the FLEGT-VPA framework take a long time. Since it began in 2007, negotiations have only been finalized in 2011. However, even though the negotiations are final, the EU’s recognition of the SVLK marked by the signing of the agreement was only implemented on 30 September 2013. After the ratification on both sides in 2014. With ratification , in de jure the FLEGT-VPA agreement between Indonesia and the European Union is effective from May 2014.
The implementation of the FLEGT-VPA agreement does not mean that Indonesia has already obtained FLEGT-License. In accordance with the Article 14 paragraph 5 e agreement, those entitled to determine the start of the FLEGT License are the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) which is the highest committee in the European Union FLEGT VPA agreement.
Through various evaluations on the implementation of SVLK in Indonesia, as well as readiness to receive FLEGT License on the part of the European Union; then at the 5th JIC meeting in Yogyakarta on 15 September 2016, it was decided that Indonesia could issue a FLEGT License on 15 November 2016. With this decision, V-Legal Documents issued for EU purposes; since 15 November 2016 it will function as a FLEGT License.
See full Newsletter JPIK Edisi V , Mariana Lubis (2016, November). Indonesia First Country Issues FLEGT-License to European Union, page 4-5.