News / Africa

EU-Liberia to Sign Timber Exports Agreement Monday

Liberia's agriculture minister Florence Chenoweth says the deal is part of President Sirleaf's effort to build a new Liberia based on transparency

Liberia timber
Liberia timber

Multimedia

Audio
  • Liberia's agriculture minister Chenoweth spoke with Butty

James Butty

Liberia and the European Union will sign a landmark trade agreement Monday that would ensure that timber products exported from Liberia to EU countries are legal.

During the regime of former President Charles Taylor, between 1997 and 2003, it is believed that all logging companies operated illegally.

The World Bank estimates that the Liberian government lost more than $200 million when timber companies evaded paying taxes.

Florence Chenoweth, Liberia’s Minister of Agriculture, says Monday’s agreement is part of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s effort to build a new Liberia that is based on the principles of good governance, transparency, and the rule of law.

“You would know that, in the past, Liberia’s wood products and logs had been exploited illegally by people who used it during our conflict to gain funding to foster their conflict. So, when this agreement enters into force, it would represent a very aggressive move by the government of Liberia,” Chenoweth says.

An EU news release notes that timber exports once accounted for more than 20 percent of Liberia’s gross domestic product [GDP], but U.N. sanctions imposed on the Taylor regime stopped the timber export.

It says the agreement is “part of a package of measures set up in the EU’s 2003 Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade which recognizes the role of EU demand for timber products in driving illicit timber sales.”

“I want you to know that this has been driven not by the European Union, but by the government of Liberia to assist us in ensuring the European market, a market that we want to target for our forest products,” Chenoweth says.

The EU statement says the Voluntary Partnership Agreement defines what constitutes legal timber in the producer country and sets up an assurance system to verify compliance and ensure that timber for export can be traced back to the source.

Chenoweth says the Sirleaf administration has put in place measures to safeguard against illegal timber sales.

“To govern our forests and forest products, the Liberian law is in three parts. One relates to commercialization, that is to say of our products to world markets and locally. The other relates to community to make sure that our communities are benefiting, they have agreements with the Forestry Authority to do harvesting and processing of timber to benefit those communities,” she says.

Chenoweth says Liberia, with over half the rainforest remaining in West Africa, has every reason to want to conserve and protect its forests.

“The third part of our law is conservation. We are harvesting our forests now in a sustainable way. During the warlord days, our forests were over-exploited and destroyed. Don’t forget now that Liberia is home to almost half of the remaining forest in our region. So, we have all the reasons to want to conserve and protect what we have,” Chenoweth says.

She says the government has always had a reforestation policy as part of its overall law governing the forest sector.

“It is not new. We had it before; it was not respected during our civil conflict,” Chenoweth says.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More