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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs