The EU has expressed its concern over the Indonesian government’s decision to remove a stipulation that domestic timber exporters must produce timber legality verification system (SVLK) certification for their products.
The EU has requested that the government revise the new regulation and revive the “green certification” requirement.
“The EU delegation looks forward to receiving feedback to its request to the government of Indonesia to continue its internal reflection on this important issue and reconsider the recent decision,” said EU head of delegation and ambassador-designate to Indonesia Vincent Guérend.
According to the EU, the SVLK standard not only helps to boost Indonesia’s timber exports but also translates into international recognition of the high standards achieved by the country in timber legality and good governance.
The delegation said the government’s recent decision would inevitably weaken the importance and strength of the SVLK as a comprehensive quality label for Indonesia’s timber products.
Arifin Lambaga, president of industrial standard certifier PT Mutuagung Lestari, said he disagreed with the new regulation because SVLK certification or V-legal documents had so far helped to boost timber exports.
“Even now, there are still many exporters, including small- to medium-sized, that require V-legal to boost acceptance of their products in the global market,” he said.
Arifin said his company had so far granted V-legal documents to around 400 exporters, 100 of which were small or medium exporters.
“A China-based exporter has even required our SVLK certification, indicating that our SVLK is globally recognized,” he said.
Indonesia’s timber legality system has supported the publication of more than 234,592 V-legal documents for 193 destination countries through 86 loading ports and 2,084 unloading ports, according to data from the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) annual report for the May 2014 to April 2015 period.
The EU, which consists of 28 member countries, requires environmentally friendly certificates for imported timber products entering its market.
Indonesia has so far been praised for developing the SVLK as the certification is deemed as proof of the country’s commitment to curbing rampant illegal logging.
The value of Indonesia’s timber exports to the EU went up by 8.9 percent from US$593 million in 2013 to $645.9 million last year, accounting for around 9 percent of the total export value of the country’s timber products, the FLEGT VPA report revealed.
The Trade Ministry has revised Regulation No. 97/2014 on forestry industrial products, which requires all timber exporters to obtain SVLK certification.
With the new Regulation No. 66/2015, signed in August this year, the ministry allows small- to medium-sized exporters to export 15 downstream timber products, such as furniture, without V-legality but with export declaration.
Trade Minister Thomas Trikarsi Lembong then revised Regulation No. 66/2015 with Regulation No. 89/2015 as part of a deregulation package, allowing exports of the 15 downstream products without SVLK certification.
Exporters need only to show proof that their products’ raw materials are sourced from suppliers with V-legal documents.
The Trade Ministry’s expert for foreign trade policy, Arlinda, said previously that the ministry strongly supported the SVLK and that the revised regulation was merely aimed at simplifying export procedures.