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Vietnam, US reach agreement to end timber trade probe

Vietnam and the US have reached an agreement on illegal logging and timber trade that will avoid hefty tariffs on Vietnamese timber exports, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

The deal was inked by MARD Minister Le Minh Hoan and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on October 1.

In October 2020, the US Trade Representative (USTR) launched an investigation into Vietnam's timber exports under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act.

The agreement addresses US concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation.

Ambassador Tai determined that the Agreement provides a satisfactory resolution of the matter subject to investigation and that no trade action is warranted at this time, the USTR said.

The agreement will contribute to improving the prestige of Vietnam’s timber sector and creating a foundation for the country’s sustainable forestry development. It also demonstrates Vietnam’s responsibility in building, issuing and implementing legal regulations, ensuring the legal timber origin in line with relevant regulations of international treaties to which Vietnam is a member.

The US side spoke highly of the agreement, saying "Vietnam will provide a model – both for the Indo-Pacific region and globally – for comprehensive enforcement against illegal timber."

Currently, the US is the biggest market for Vietnamese wood products, representing an estimated 7.4 billion USD last year, about half of the country’s total. In the first eight months of this year the number stood at 6.4 billion USD, up 58.8 percent year-on-year./.