EU-Liberia strike deal to stem illegal logging
(BRUSSELS) - The European Union on Monday signed a deal with Liberia requiring exports of its wood products carry a certificate of origin, the sixth agreement of its kind aimed at fighting illegal logging.
Under the deal, Liberia, which holds over half the remaining rainforest in west Africa, by 2014 will license all wood products including furniture and wood chips used for bio-fuel.
"I am pleased to see that yet another country joins our common fight against illegal logging," said Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
"This commitment will contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation in Liberia on the one hand, and will benefit the European consumers."
Struck in Monrovia, and aimed at backing Liberia's forestry reforms, the deal aimed at improving transparency in timber trade is the sixth between the EU and timber producing countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Indonesia.
Stronger control of logging will also enable Liberia to stop illegal deforestation and environmental degradation that contribute to climate change, the EU said in a statement.
According to EU estimates, between 20 and 40 percent of industrial wood production, valued at an estimated 10 billion dollars a year, is derived from illegal sources, with up to 20 percent finding its way into the EU.
Illegal logging was rampant during Liberia's prolonged civil war in the 1990s and timber revenues were used to sustain the conflict.
The World Bank estimated that corruption linked to the industry may have cost Liberia as much as half the entire country's budget at the time.
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