Vietnam’s Booming Furniture Industry and Timber Smuggling
in the Mekong Region

BorderlinesEIA/Telapak have been probing the trade in stolen timber in East Asia since the late 1990s. Over the last decade, governments around the world have made a raft of pronouncements regarding the seriousness of illegal logging and their determination to tackle it. Yet the stark reality is ‘business as usual’ for the organised syndicates looting the remaining precious tropical forests for a quick profit.

This report contains new information from field investigations carried out by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its partner Telapak. It exposes how the rapid growth of Vietnam’s wood processing industry is threatening some of the last intact forests in the Mekong region, especially those in neighbouring Laos.

Since the mid-1990s, Vietnam has taken steps to conserve its remaining forests, whilst at the same time hugely expanding its wooden furniture production industry. Furniture exports from the country were US$ 2.4 billion in 2007, a startling ten-fold increase since 2000. It is unfortunately inevitable that due to the lack of controls on the global timber trade, illegal timber constitutes a significant component of the imported raw materials supplying Vietnam’s furniture factories.

Vietnam has an unenviable track record when it comes to dealing in stolen timber. In the late 1990s it was caught importing illegal timber from neighbouring Cambodia. In 2003 EIA/Telapak documented shipments of stolen logs from Indonesia entering Vietnam.

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