EU reinforces Laos’ wood-processing industry for new export markets

With the extensive collaboration and suitable capacities, the vibrant wood processing industry in the Lao PDR has a great potential to generate revenues in rural locations and increase diversification of the local economy.

The International Trade Centre, through the ARISE Plus Lao PDR project funded by the European Union (EU), in close collaboration with the Department of Trade Promotion (DTP), the Department of Forestry (DoF) and the National University of Laos (NUOL), organised a workshop titled “Building Sustainable Sourcing and New Markets for Wood Products”. The workshop took place at the Faculty of Forest Science, the National University of Laos, between Mar 31 and Apr 1.

The workshop aimed to equip wood processing companies with essential knowledge and skills on the new export regulations and market requirements. As a result, the Lao wood exporters can increase applicable capacities to leverage the increasing opportunities in the regional and global markets, particularly within the EU, whilst meeting quality and sustainable sourcing.

Based on the fact that the Lao PDR is gifted with natural resources and significant planted forest assets, it provides abundant opportunities for the Lao wood processing sector. However, the majority of processed wood exports from the Lao PDR so far is limited to low value-added products. At the same time, the industry continues to face a competitive environment, with major established manufacturing companies in the region. Therefore, the Lao government together with development partners has been working towards putting regulatory measures to increase value addition in the wood processing industry. In parallel, the Lao PDR has embarked on the negotiation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) for a sustainable timber trade agreement with the EU.

Ms. Ina Marciulionyte, Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the Lao PDR noted at the opening session of the workshop: “The key tenets of the mandate of newly elected Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh are resonating well with our own priorities for 2021-2027. One can single out the Green Growth Strategy, the accent put on Forestry, which reverberates with our ongoing FLEGT VPA negotiations, and the priority given to job creation for the young Lao. Against this backdrop, the role of the private sector, traders, will be instrumental.”

Through this workshop, participants were exposed to different requirement with regards to exporting processed wood to the European Union. Participants have also gained insight into some helpful strategies for accessing the EU timber market, such as approaching the market, the channels and how to find partners, and setting a reasonable price. Besides, companies will hear success stories, for instance from the Burapha company on how they manage their export process.

The two-day workshop was joined by several key players in the Lao wood-processing sector and development partners. They include the Lao Furniture Association, Lao Wood Processing Association, Lao-Rubber association, Lao government counterparts, the EU Delegation and development partners.

Source: Lao News Agency