In this guide, you will find all information you’re looking for about Forest Law Enforcement Governance And Trade (FLEGT).
So, if you want to learn more about FLEGT, read this guide.
- What Is FLEGT?
- What Is The EU FLEGT Action Plan?
- What Is A FLEGT Certificate?
- How Do I Get A FLEGT Certificate When Shipping Into The EU?
- What Is A FLEGT License?
- What Is A Voluntary Partnership Agreement In Relation To FLEGT?
- Which Countries Have A Voluntary Partnership Agreement?
- Does A FLEGT License Cover One Shipment Or One Container?
- Do Shipments That Are Split Among Operators Require Multiple FLEGT Licenses?
- Can A Single FLEGT License Cover Multiple Containers?
- What Are The Benefits Of Importing Timber And Timber Products Covered By The FLEGT License?
- What Timber Products Does A FLEGT License Cover?
- Where Can I Find FLEGT Licensed Products?
- Does The EU Allow The Importation Of Timber Products Not Covered By A FLGET License?
- What Is The Procedure For Handling FLEGT-Licensed Products?
- How Do Customers Identify FLEGT-Licensed Timber Products?
- Does FLEGT-Licensed Timber Lose Its FLEGT License If Processed In Another Country?
- What Factors May Affect The Validity Of A FLEGT License?
- Who Issues FLEGT Licenses?
- How Do I Determine The Credible Of A FLEGT License?
- What Are The Consequences Of Importing FLEGT-Licensed Products From Illegal Sources?
- Can The Import Country Differ From The Destination Country As Stipulated In The FLEGT License?
- Why Is It Important To Match The Information On My Import Declaration With The FLEGT License?
- What Are The Effects Of FLEGT On International Shipping?
What Is FLEGT?
Forest Law Governance and Trade(FLEGT)
FLEGT, otherwise known as Forest Law Governance and Trade, refers to an action plan whose main purpose is to curb illegal logging.
It is achieved by enforcing proper forest management and advocating for trade on timber that is legally produced.
Several countries globally are geared towards controlling unlawful logging to maintain forests. You can find additional information about this on the FLEGT website.
What Is The EU FLEGT Action Plan?
EU FLEGT published an action plan in 2003.
It contains measures meant to fight unauthorized logging in forests and only promote trade on timber that has been legally produced.
The measures apply to the EU and its member states together with partner countries.
EU FLEGT Action Plan
What Is A FLEGT Certificate?
A FLEGT certificate refers to a document that confirms that timber or timber products being exported.
That is, having been produced as per the required laws and regulations of a particular country.
Keep in mind that this only applies to countries that have ratified a VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) with the EU.
The FLEGT certificate is not mandatory, and therefore individual companies can choose whether or not to implement it.
In as much as certification facilitates exercising due diligence, it’s normally not linked as proof of legality. Instead, a valid FLEGT license is considered as proof of legality.
How Do I Get A FLEGT Certificate When Shipping Into The EU?
You can acquire a FLEGT certificate from your local licensing authorities if your country has ratified a FLEGT VPA with the EU.
In addition to that, the issuing country must have a FLEGT licensing scheme that is operational.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement partner country should have a Timber Legality Assurance System to start providing licenses.
It’s worth noting that the European Union and the VPA partner country have to confirm before the commencement of FLEGT licensing.
Normally, the EU restricts any import that lacks the FLEGT license. It is a legal requirement when shipping timber and timber products into the EU.
What Is A FLEGT License?
A FLEGT license can be described as a document that certifies the production of timber and timber products.
It is as per the laws and regulations of a particular country of export.
Timber products that have this type of License are considered to have met the EU Timber Regulation.
A company or any operator dealing in timber and timber products in the EU market must adhere to the European Union Timber Regulation.
It is meant to prevent any illegal timber or timber products from accessing the EU market.
Issuing of the FLEGT license applies to countries that have a timber legality assurance system in place.
The partner country also needs to have ratified Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
What Is A Voluntary Partnership Agreement In Relation To FLEGT?
A voluntary Partnership Agreement refers to a strategy implemented by the EU to fight illegal logging.
A country outside the EU gets into an agreement with the European Union for the exportation of timber.
The main goal for VPA is to ensure that any exported timber entering the European Union has been legally produced.
In addition to that, the Voluntary Partnership Agreement works towards preventing unlawful logging by a partner country.
It is achieved through ensuring proper management and governance of the forests.
In as much as VPA is considered important, it is not mandatory for the timber-exporting countries.
Nevertheless, you need to understand that it is enforceable on both sides as soon as VPA has been implemented.
Under this partnership, the partnering countries must have a system that confirms the legality of the exported timber.
Voluntary Partnership Agreement
Which Countries Have A Voluntary Partnership Agreement?
Only six countries are confirmed to have a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU. Some of these countries are not limited to;
- Republic of Congo
- The Central African Republic
November 2016 was the first time Indonesia provided FLEGT licenses making it the first country to issue the licenses among the ones mentioned.
With time, other countries have shown interest in joining the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU. These countries include;
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Cote d’Ivoire
Does A FLEGT License Cover One Shipment Or One Container?
As stated in the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and trade regulation, a FLEGT license is meant to cover one shipment.
Every shipment is covered by one import declaration in the European Union. However, it might be inclusive of several shipping containers.
Do Shipments That Are Split Among Operators Require Multiple FLEGT Licenses?
The time when the shipments are split will determine whether or not they will require multiple FLGT licenses.
FLEGT implementing Regulation, one FLEGT license should be declared to one customs office or custom declaration.
As soon as the shipment splits before the exportation begins, each of the different shipments will require new FLEGT licenses.
Will cancel the split before the initial FLEGT License before the shipments.
If the shipment has already exited the country, and the split occurs.
The importer responsible for the FLEGT license will be required to declare the shipment and, after that, proceed to split it.
If the importer decides to split the shipment before declaring it, the information in the FLEGT license and the shipments will vary.
In such a circumstance, the EU FLEGT Competent Authorities will hold the shipment, thus preventing it from accessing the European Union.
Can A Single FLEGT License Cover Multiple Containers?
Yes, a single FLEGT license can cover more than one container since a single shipment might have several containers.
For instance, you are shipping 15 containers, and all these containers have a similar Bill of Lading covering them.
One FLEGT License will be enough to provide information about the contents being shipped in the 15 containers.
A single FLEGT is sufficient to cover several containers being shipped to the EU at different times and in different vessels.
As much as the containers will be delivered at different ports, they shall all be declared to the same EU customs office.
What Are The Benefits Of Importing Timber And Timber Products Covered By The FLEGT License?
Importing timber and timber products covered by the FLEGT license comes with several benefits. Some of these are not limited to;
- The FLEGT license confirms that the timber and timber products being imported have met the EU Timber Regulation requirements.
Meaning they are legally extracted and produced.
- Saves on costs and time – This comes from operators not needing to exercise further due diligence on their FLEGT-licensed products.
- Proof of legality – When exporting timber products to the European Union, you must prove the legality of your products by having a FLEGT license.
This License makes it easier for you to conduct your timber and timber product business across the European Union countries.
- It makes importation for timber and timber products easier across the EU.
- Promotion and strengthening of legal trade – FLEGT license promotes legal production of timber and timber products and thus promotes legal trade.
What Timber Products Does A FLEGT License Cover?
Any timber product that is exported to the EU should have a FLEGT license.
The timber products need to be included among items of a VPA between a partner country outside the EU and the EU.
Some of the timber products covered buy by FLEGT license in all Voluntary Partnership Agreements are not limited to;
- Railroad sleepers
- Sawn timber
Other products that have been added by VPA countries in their VPA scope include;
- Packing cases
- Pulp and paper
- Builders’ joinery
- Carpentry of wood
Where Can I Find FLEGT Licensed Products?
You can find FLEGT licensed products in countries that are part of the European Union.
In addition to that, you can also find in countries that have implemented a Voluntary Partnership Agreement deal in FLEGT licensed products.
That’s said, countries such as Indonesia, Liberia, Ghana, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo deal in FLEGT licensed products.
The list keeps on increasing as more countries show interest in joining the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.
Does The EU Allow The Importation Of Timber Products Not Covered By A FLGET License?
All timber products exported to the EU are required to have a FLEGT license.
Failure to provide the License will have the state authorities prevent your products from accessing the market.
Suppose your timber products will be from a VPA partner country with a FLEGT system in place.
If they lack a FLEGT license, they will be denied entry into the market.
It doesn’t matter if they have been listed in the VPA product scope. You will need a license to operate your timber business in the EU.
On the other hand, your products will be allowed access to the EU market if;
The products in question are not included in the scope of the product, or you are exporting them from a country.
That is yet to implement FLEGT licensing or is not a member of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.
However, you will be required to abide by the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) requirements if EUTR covers your products.
The EUTR ensures that illegally extracted timber and timber products are prohibited from accessing the EU market.
Indonesia was the first country outside the EU to start issuing FLEGT licenses, after which other countries started joining.
What Is The Procedure For Handling FLEGT-Licensed Products?
Procedure For Handling FLEGT-Licensed Products
An annexe explaining Procedure for handling FLEGT licensed products is included in the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the EU and the partner country.
The annexe describes the border control measures in the European Union and the procedures to be followed by the EU authorities.
Once a FLEGT licensed timber or timber products shipment arrives from a VPA partner country.
The EU authorities follow the procedures as per the EU FLEGT regulation of 2005 while at the same time implementing the 2008 regulation.
These regulations state that as soon as a VPA country commences implementing FLEGT licensing.
The EU authorities must confirm that timber product imported from the VPA partner country. Which fall under the VPA product scope is FLEGT licensed.
In any case, the products fail to have a FLEGT license. The authorities will prevent the entry of the products to the EU.
As described in the VPA annexe on EU procedures, the following are the two main types of checks performed by Competent authorities.
Physical checks – Physical checks are done per the usual procedures conducted by EU customs authorities to ensure that the shipment is in line with the accompanying licenses.
Documentary checks -Documentary checks are done to confirm the authenticity of the FLEGT licenses.
In addition to that, these checks ensure that FLEGT licenses are in the appropriate format, are valid, and the dates are correctly stated.
In any case, the Competent Authority doubts the FLEGT licenses of the shipment.
They are free to ask for further explanation from the VPA partner country.
It is important to note that if any doubt arises regarding the validity of the FLEGT license, the shipment can be detained or its release cancelled.
How Do Customers Identify FLEGT-Licensed Timber Products?
You should never expect from FLEGT licensed products a logo, label, or brand associated with it.
I know you might be thinking about how then do importers recognize FLEGT licensed products.
Here is a simplified explanation to it;
FLEGT licensed products cannot be identified using a logo or brand because FLEGT licenses are documents that are administered to every shipment.
We can’t compare them to customer certificates as you might think.
As soon as a country starts implementing FLEGT licensing, the EU will only accept imports with a FLEGT license from that specific country.
The type of product should fall within the product scope of that country’s FLEGT VPA with the EU.
With that in mind, a consumer certificate or logo is not much needed.
Nevertheless, you should know that some consumers might inquire about imported products from other countries that have implemented the FLEGT licensing system.
By so doing, consumers support the efforts made towards ensuring the protection of forests and illegal logging.
Does FLEGT-Licensed Timber Lose Its FLEGT License If Processed In Another Country?
Yes, it does. Allow me to explain this further.
For instance, you decide to export timber and timber products from a country that has implemented FLEGT licensing to one that lacks.
Once the timber arrived in the processing country and converted to furniture.
It will lose its FLEGT License if you decide to export it to the EU.
When processing your timber in a non-VPA country, it is important to conduct due diligence per the EU Timber Regulation.
However, if you decide to ship your FLEGT licensed timber to the EU via a third country such as China, there are possible chances of maintaining the License.
You will not lose the validity of the FLEGT license for your timber products if they don’t get mixed with other products while in China.
What Factors May Affect The Validity Of A FLEGT License?
The Competent Authority is responsible for ensuring that the FLEGT license is valid. The validity of the FLEGT license can be affected by the following factors;
- Authenticity -The FLEGT license should be issued by the Licensing authorities in the VPA partner country.
- Accuracy – The License should match the shipment and accompanying documents in regards to the information provided therein.
- Processing of timber in another country – When importing a FLEGT licensed timber or timber product to a country that lacks FLEGT licensing. You might lose the validity of your FLEGT license if the timber gets processed.
With that in mind, you need to choose the best to export your timber for processing to other non-VPA countries.
Exercising the due diligence as required by EUTR before exporting the product to the EU is very important.
- Availability of timber legality assurance system – Any country that wishes to start issuing FLEGT licenses is required to have a timber legality FLEGT assurance system.
This is as stated in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
Who Issues FLEGT Licenses?
FLEGT licenses are issued by the FLEGT licensing Authorities in the timber producing VPA partner country.
The timber products need to be listed in the VPA annexe, and the destination of export should be the EU.
The EU will require timber and timber products to have FLEGT licenses to prove the legality of timber extraction.
How Do I Determine The Credible Of A FLEGT License?
Note that the Timber legality assurance system accepted by the EU and the VPA partner country promotes FLEGT licensing.
The EU and VPA partner countries have to seek consultation with government stakeholders, civil society, and the private sector.
Some of the inclusions of a VPA country’s timber legality assurance system is not limited to;
- Supply chain controls – Supply chain controls are meant to follow up on the wood extraction and ensure that legal products are not mixed with illegal ones.
- Definition of legality
- The Procedures used to verify compliance with the supply chain controls as well as the legality definition.
Additionally, the Timber legality assurance system conducts independent audits that follow ISO standards to detect any system failures.
The auditors provide the VPA joint implementation committee with the audit results.
Civil society goes the extra mile to visit the field in some VPA countries and observe the operations.
In case they notice any system loopholes and potential fraud, they inform the decision-makers.
For FLEGT licensing to be implemented in a country, the timber legality assurance system must be functioning as explained in the VPA.
To confirm this, the EU and the VPA conduct a joint assessment to see that all requirements are met.
What Are The Consequences Of Importing FLEGT-Licensed Products From Illegal Sources?
The likeliness of facing the consequences of importing FLEGT licensed products from illegal sources will vary.
It will have based on the operator’s knowledge about the legality of the product.
A good example; if an operator did not know about the product’s illegality or reason to doubt illegality. It could rule out that they acted in good faith.
Nevertheless, if it is evident that the operator was fully aware of the illegality, competent authorities will not hesitate to penalize the operator.
The main purpose of the FLEGT license is to ensure that products are legal. In any case, they find illegality. The FLEGT licensing authorities have the right to revoke the License.
Can The Import Country Differ From The Destination Country As Stipulated In The FLEGT License?
Yes, they can. The European Union is considered a single customs area, and the destination and the importing country can differ.
For example, shipment listing in a trading company that operates in Gioia Tauro, Italy, as a destination can be customs cleared in Germany.
Therefore, information about the destination country’s FLEGT license is indicative and can only be used by the exporting authorities.
Why Is It Important To Match The Information On My Import Declaration With The FLEGT License?
Information on your import declaration should complement the one in the FLEGT license. Failure to this might result in your shipment being held by the EU Competent Authorities until a solution is reached.
The difference between the weight and volume of your shipment and the weight and volume stated in the FLEGT license should not exceed 10%.
If this limit is exceeded, the EU Competent Authorities will hold the shipment as they inquire for additional VPA partner country information.
What Are The Effects Of FLEGT On International Shipping?
FLEGT has impacted international shipping positively.
It has controlled illegal logging and shipment of illegal timber products and enhanced international trade between different countries across different continents.
However, FLEGT has become a barrier for some to export timber and timber products to the EU due to the requirements.
Are Operators Required To Send FLEGT Licenses To Their Local Authorities?
Yes. The operators’ responsibility is to send the FLEGT license to their local authorities by sending the copy issued by their suppliers.
What Is The Function Of FLEGT Competent Authorities?
FLEGT Competent Authorities are located in the European union member states, and they carry out the verification of FLEGT licenses.
They ensure that the FLEGT license is as per the EU FLEGT regulation.
Most EU countries have one Competent Authority in charge of both FLEGT and the EUTR Regulation.