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New Roadmap To Drive Sustainable Wood Production, Exports

Source: Vientiane Times

A new export roadmap for the wood processing sector will promote sustainable wood production and the export of wood products through the inclusion of more value-added products.

The export roadmap, a landmark event for Lao wood processors, was launched on Monday.

The event took place both offline and online and was attended by government officials, development partners and invited guests.

The export roadmap presents a work plan for Laos’ exports with a focus on value-added wood products.

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It is based on three strategic objectives, namely improving the sector’s sustainability through better coordination and increasing access to legal timber; stimulating product diversification and enhancing skills and processing capacities, fostering technology adoption, and spurring investment; and enhancing the sector’s ability to create and sustain market linkages.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Khampheng Saysompheng said “The export roadmap for Laos’ wood processing sector will run from 2021 to 2025. It will complement national policies and measures, aiming to promote industry and trade development.”

“The 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-2025 identifies wood processing as a priority sector to be promoted to enable businesses to develop products that have more added value prior to export and are of better quality. This will reduce exports of raw materials and semi-processed products, while promoting a more environmentally sound and socially sustainable industry,” Dr Khampheng said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mr Thongphat Vongmany said “This roadmap offers a holistic approach, from planting forests to processing and exporting quality and value-added wood products.”

“It is vital that products are diversified and meet international standards, in order to increase domestic capacities and competitiveness. This must be done while adjusting to the ‘new normal’ during the Covid-19 pandemic, both in Laos and around the world, by adopting new technologies and increasing the use of e-commerce.”

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Ambassador of the European Union to Laos, Ms Ina Marčiulionytė, said “This roadmap will help to tackle challenges and open new important markets, building on the opportunities and development potential for this sector.”

“The EU and its member states are proud to take an active role to contribute to this objective, side-by-side with Lao authorities, in view of Laos’ foreseen graduation from Least Developed Country status in the near future.”

Laos is rich in natural and planted forest resources, offering market opportunities in the region and globally.

Teak and rosewood are considered valuable in international markets. The country has a small, but vibrant wood processing industry, with the potential to increase jobs in the rural areas, thus generating more income and driving the country’s economy. 

Nevertheless, processed wood remains a low-value-added product in Laos. The country increasingly faces regional competition, leaving the industry with only a few regional markets to access, mainly China and Vietnam.
Additionally, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is projected to decrease global consumption, setting back the supply due to factory shutdowns and logistical challenges.

To address these challenges and find solutions, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, developed the new roadmap based on contributions from industry leaders, small business owners, institutions, and public-sector representatives.

The detailed action plan highlights the strong coordination between public and private-sector stakeholders.
The wood-processing sector steering committee will coordinate activities, monitor progress, and seek the necessary resources to implement the roadmap.

The International Trade Centre assisted the roadmap’s development as part of the Asean Regional Integration Support from the European Union (Arise Plus Lao PDR).

This is an EU-funded initiative focusing on promoting inclusive economic growth, climate change resilience, mitigating vulnerability and job creation in Laos.