13 July 2018

Liberia, Voluntary Partnership Agreement Sign Aide Memoire to Improve Forest Governance

Monrovia — The Board Chair of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Mr. Harrison Karnwea, has recommitted Liberia's continued preparedness to manage her forest including forest resources sustainability for the benefit of all Liberians.

Speaking at the close of the Sixth Annual Joint Implementation Committee Meeting of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Tuesday, July 10, Karnwea pledged Liberia's continued support to the VPA because he said the agreement adds values and makes Liberia's timbers acceptable worldwide.

"I look forward to the successful implementation of the VPA hopefully in 2020 where Liberia will join Indonesia in issuing flag certificates," he added.

As another phase of support to the agreement ends in October of this year, the FDA Board Chair wants partners to continue to support the VPA's implementation in the country.

Also speaking at the program was the head of corporation section resilience of the European Union delegation to Liberia, Alberto Menghini.

Menghini said the signing of the Aide Memoire is a testimony that the VPA is alive and kicking.

He noted that the EU is pleased that the new administration of the FDA is committed to the agreement noting that the Sixth Annual Joint Implementation meeting is the first under the new management team and they are impressed thus far.

He further stated that Liberia's forestry sector has a huge potential and with the target under the pro-poor development agenda of increasing the contributions of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 12 percent.

"We believe that through the VPA, we can all work together so that the sector can generate more revenue, jobs including promoting an ever improved governance of the sector so that the economic growth is not only economic but also social and the benefit is shown to all Liberians," Mr. Menghini indicated.

He pledged the EU's continued support to the initiative and further said that they are working hard and are as well hopeful that by 2020, the insuring of flag license objective will be fulfilled especially with the resources and commitment all in tight.

"Though the initiative is not a development related one rather a trade agreement, but the EU is happy and pleased to have such corporation," he added.

The EU's head of corporation section told reporters at the close of the meeting that generating home-grown economic development is one of the ways in which Liberia can break the circle on depending on international partners.

The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber exporting country outside the EU.

The VPA, amongst other things, aimed to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU Market from a partner country could comply with the laws of that country.

Additionally, VPA promotes trade in legal timber, addresses the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement.

A major strength of VPA is that they look beyond trade to consider development and environmental issues.

The meeting, which brought together stakeholders from the sector, including partners, was held at the Monrovia City Hall as participants discussed critical sustainability and governance issues in a move for the people to directly benefit.

Meanwhile, additional financing agreement to the VPA was signed on Thursday, July 12.

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