Ghana Signs novel Timber deal with Eu
The agreement which was signed last Friday November 20, 2009 in Brussels makes Ghana the first country to sign a voluntary agreement with the EU. Nana Bema Kumi, Ghana’s Head of Mission to the EU signed on behalf of the country while Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and Swedish Agriculture Minister Eskil Erlandsson signed on behalf of the EU Presidency.
According to reports available to ghanabusinessnews.com, the agreement which is in keeping with the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade (FLEG) action plan establishes the legal framework of surveillance and monitoring aimed at ensuring that all timber imports into the EU have been acquired, harvested, transported and exported in accordance with the law in Ghana. The agreement also creates a national legality assurance system for all timber and timber products sold in the EU, on non-EU markets and on the domestic market. It also provides for independent third-party audits of the entire legality assurance system to guarantee credibility and effective verification and licensing.
Commenting on the deal, Stavros Dimas said, “I congratulate Ghana for its leadership in being the first country to sign a voluntary partnership agreement with EU on legal timber exports. This will help improve forest governance in Ghana and ensure that timber imports from Ghana are not linked to illegal logging. As producers and consumers of tropical timber, Ghana and the EU have a joint responsibility to eradicate illegal logging and related trade.”
The first shipments of timber from Ghana licensed under the agreement are expected at the end of 2010. Customs officials in EU Member States will ensure that only timber shipments which meet the legality assurance requirements are imported to the EU. This will give EU operators confidence that all the timber imported from Ghana is of legal origin.
The EU represents the number one export market for Ghana’s timber (43% of the total value of its exports, 33% of volume). Ghana is counting on this agreement to pursue the reform of its forestry sector, to ensure that the sector contributes to poverty alleviation and to promote investment in the sector to ensure the future viability of its forest industry.
Timber is the fourth highest foreign exchange earner for Ghana behind, gold, cocoa and tourism. It is worth an estimated $400 million a year and more than half of all of the country’s timber products are exported to the European Union.
Ghana’s timber sector survived the global economic crisis, when contract volume rose by 20%.9% in the second quarter of 2009 as compared to the first quarter of 2008.
The Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) has indicated that a total contract volume of 129,580 cubic metres of wood products and 5,388 pieces of furniture were processed and approved during the period.
For instance teak poles/billets logs/lumber, plywood, sliced veneer, and mouldings/processed lumber increased by 44%, 56.5%, 31.3%, and 124.5% respectively as compared to the previous quarter figures to reflect volumes of 52,377 cubic metres, 41,216 cubic metres, 8,371 cubic metres, and 4,163 cubic metres, it said.
The ITTO reported that there was marginal increase of 2.1% for rotary veneer by volume (3,795 cubic metres) when compared to figures for the previous quarter, although the market was generally down.