British development agency DFID has suspended funding for a timber industry reform project because of the Rakhine crisis > Articles & News
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British development agency DFID has suspended funding for a timber industry reform project because of the Rakhine crisis

British development agency DFID has suspended funding for a timber industry reform project because of the Rakhine crisis
BRITAIN HAS cited the crisis over Rakhine State for a decision to suspend funding for Myanmar`s effort to join a European Union initiative aimed at combatting illegal logging and promoting effective forest governance. Myanmar has been preparing to sign the EU`s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade - Voluntary Partnership Agreement since early 2015. The EU adopted the FLEGT Action Plan in 2003 and two years later introduced the voluntary partnership agreements, under which the European Commission is empowered to negotiate bilateral trade deals with timber exporting countries.

Myanmar`s preparations to sign a FLEGT-VPA were funded by the British government through its Department for International Development (DFID), said U Khin Maung Kyi, deputy general manager for extraction at state-owned Myanma Timber Enterprise. He said the purpose was to establish strong foundations on which Myanmar and the EU could negotiate a VPA. Myanmar wanted to sign a VPA to facilitate timber exports to the EU, improve forest governance and fight illegal logging, he said. The process though is now in limbo because of the Rakhine crisis. "In August, we were informed via email that DFID will stop funding for it by the end of November," he told Frontier in early October. It is clearly stated (in the letter) that the Rakhine situation is the main reason.

"Sadly, I am sure it is not a win-win-win situation," he said. "But it`s a political issue, so it`s out of our hands." The DFID press office confirmed the suspension to Frontier. It said in a statement that the crisis in Rakhine State had prompted a change of priorities in Myanmar that would see it target "those who are persistently left out of economic and social development". DFID-supported activities related to the VPA will be "postponed until further notice", it said. The department has also requested the FLEGT Secretariat not to make any further fund disbursements until it is clear what activities may still be carried out.

EU ambassador in Myanmar Mr Kristian Schmidt told Frontier that the UK`s decision to pull funding "doesn`t affect the offer" the EU was extending through the timber imports scheme, provided the Myanmar government meets the required standards.

October 15, 2018