The EU and Indonesia today signed an agreement in Jakarta that aims to keep illegally logged wood from reaching the European market. This is the first Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed by an Asian nation with the EU and is seen as a considerable step forward on the fight against the illegal logging worldwide.
“[Indonesia is] by far the largest timber exporter to enter into such an agreement,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said in a press statement.
The VPA makes it so that wood shipped to the EU must first be approved as legal by a national authority, while EU customs workers are set to return any unapproved wood back to Indonesia. The VPA took four years to draft and agree on.
Officials on both sides hope the agreement will help stem deforestation on the islands of Indonesia, which has one of the world’s highest deforestation rates. Still, even with the agreement in place, possible stumbling blocks remain.