EU-Honduras Voluntary Partnership Agreement: when trade policy can make a difference for sustainability

By Jennifer Richard

Today, the INTA committee of the European Parliament has adopted the report that approves the concluded Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Honduras on forest law, governance and trade in timber products to the EU. This report is under the leadership of Karin Karlsbro, Renew Europe’s coordinator in the International trade committee. “This is one of those moments when I feel that the EU can make a difference in the world, when trade can truly be a tool for sustainability. Voluntary Partnership agreements contribute to better regulation and governance of the forest sector in the exporting country”, she says.

Honduras is the first country in Latin America to start and to conclude a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union. Renew Europe welcomes this first step and reminds that the subsequent implementation phase will be fundamental, in order to reach a licensing system allowing Honduras to export legally sourced timber and timber products to our Single Market. Honduras is also first among the EU’s partners to negotiate a VPA to have indigenous people at the negotiation table.

This agreement can be a key for a better regulation and governance of the forest sector in Honduras and can strengthen this sector. Since 2015, this country lost 12.5% of its forests, mainly due to forest fires and pest infestations caused by climate change, as well as illegal logging. Renew Europe strongly believes this VPA will positively contribute to increase the legally sourced timber’s exports and tackle illegal logging’s scourge. This agreement can create jobs and have a impact on the economy.

Honduras is facing a high level of poverty, violence and corruption. “Every step that can bring civil society, private sector, indigenous groups and the government together to the same table to find solutions for a sustainable forest sector, like the negotiations resulting in this VPA, needs full support and encouragement” declares Karin Karlsbro, Renew Europe’s rapporteur on this important file.

Renew Europe remains committed to address deforestation and forest degradation in trade policy. “For the EU, the agreement is in line with its objectives to encourage sustainable forest management. It addresses deforestation and forest degradation” says Karin Karlsbro. Our political family promotes sustainable development and believes in the capacity of the Paris Agreement to fight against the climate change.

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