“If you tap into a sector, your job market opens,” says Beckles. “It creates an avenue for training. Then you have people who are better prepared and produce better products. What you end up with is an industry where people employed are knowledgeable of the product, so the sector opens up further. It’s a whole cycle. If you then expand it to other regions in the country, people don’t need to move from where they are.”
To implement the VPA, Guyana will develop systems and procedures for verifying the legality of timber products throughout the supply chain, from the forest or point of import to the point of export or domestic market. Experiences from other countries that are already implementing VPAs with the EU suggest that this is likely to take several years.
“We have already developed some key thematic areas to focus on over the next 3-5 years,” says Laura Singh, who works at the Guyana’s Forest Product Development and Marketing Council Inc., and is a member of the National Technical Working Group that led the VPA negotiations with the EU. “They include issues such as market improvements and industry development, the strengthening of implementing structures to ensure effective coordination of all the various implementing bodies, developing a finance mechanism for implementing the VPA, capacity building, communication and others.”
While in Belgium, the Guyanese delegation met with customs authorities, policymakers and nongovernmental organisations. The aim was to learn about European needs and concerns, and to understand similarities and differences between regulatory control systems at each end of the timber trade.