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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora