Vietnam, Cambodia work to fight illegal timber trading

Vietnam and Cambodia should intensify cooperation in monitoring their export and import of timber and wood products, thus minimising illegal timber trading at border areas, heard a dialogue held in Ho Chi Minh City on October 22. 

A production line of wood products for export
The event was jointly organised by the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VAF) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Forestry Administration (FA) of Cambodia. 

Deputy General Director of the VAF Pham Van Dien said that ensuring timber raw materials hold legal origin certificates is one of the key measures in Vietnam’s development policy for the wood processing and export industry, adding that imported wood has helped add raw materials, contributing to the increasing value of wood exports.

Vietnam’s wood processing industry has developed rapidly and stably in recent years. In 2017, Vietnam became the world’s fifth largest wood exporter and the second biggest in Asia, with an export turnover of over US$8 billion, according to Dien. 

Bui Chinh Nghia, also from the VAF, said last year, the processing and exporting of wood products of Vietnam used about 31 million cu.m of timber, including about 7 million cu.m worth US$2.19 billion imported. In the first eight months of 2018, Vietnam imported US$1.3 billion worth of raw material timber, with Cambodia the third largest supplier, after China and the US. 

According to statistics from the General Department of Customs, the import turnover of wood and wood products from Cambodia totaled over US$213 million in 2017 and US$84 million in the first nine months of 2018.

In contrast, Cambodia is also one of the export markets for Vietnamese wood and wood products, with the export turnover tending to increase. Vietnam earned US$8.27 million from exporting its wood and wood products to Cambodia in 2017, and the figure hit US$8.41 million in the Jan-August period of 2018. 

So Lorn, Deputy General Director of Forest Industry and International Cooperation Department under the FA, said that Vietnam and his country should boost cooperation and investment in exploiting and processing timber in Cambodia, while sharing information on markets, businesses, and wood products.

The two countries share more than 1,100km of borderline, stretching across 10 provinces of Vietnam and nine provinces of Cambodia. Therefore, the trade exchange between the two sides through border gates is quite favourable. However, this also poses a challenge for controlling illegal trade, especially of forestry products.

Dien said to prevent the illegal cross-border timber exploitation and transport, Vietnam and Cambodia have promulgated and perfected relevant institutions and legal documents. The two sides have regularly coordinated in implementing the signed memorandum of understanding on forestry cooperation, especially in forest management and trade in forest products. 

Participants said in order to legitimize the trading of timber and wood products between Vietnam and Cambodia in a sustainable fashion, the two countries should join hands to fight and deal with illegal timber trading and apply a legal timber traceability system.


The two countries also need to work closely in border control activities to protect forest resources and ensure the sustainability of their timber exploitation, processing and export industries, they stressed.

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