TED Case Studies

Vietnam Deforestation



          CASE NUMBER:         243 
          CASE MNEMONIC:      VIETWOOD
          CASE NAME:          Vietnam Logging Ban


A.   IDENTIFICATION

1.   The Issue

Since the destruction of the Vietnam War, Vietnam's forests have
continued to come under extreme strain.  Timber exports, the
collection of firewood, and other pressures threaten to eliminate
the country's natural forests at the start of the next decade
unless actions to curb the deforestation are taken quickly. 
Towards this end, the Vietnamese government has acted to limit
timber exports, but these measures are proving to be difficult to
enforce.

2.   Description

Although deforestation brings immediate, short-term gains to needy
farmers and big profits to timber concessionaires, it generates
long-term losses to the environment--of the diverse and protean
forest ecosystem itself, of habitat for unique animal and plant
species, of livelihood for forest-dwelling ethinic groups, and of
watershed and nutrients for a larger ecological system.

Vietnam's forest cover has shrunk from 44 percent of the country's
total land area in 1943 to 28 percent or 9.3 million hectares
today.  During the Vietnam War, US military actions destroyed an
estimated 4.9 million hectares of forest cover.  Currenty, the
country's remaining two million hectares of natural forests are
being reduced at a rate of 100,000 to 200,000 hectares per year. 
Reforestation is not keeping pace with forest cover losses stemming
from unplanned agricultural clearances, forest fires, the
collection of firewood, and the harvesting of timber.  If present
rates of deforestation continue, Vietnam's natural forests will
disappear by the first part of the next decade.

The Vietnamese government has begun to act against deforestation
caused by timber exports.  In August 1993 the Ministry of Commerce
issued a provisional blanket ban on the exports of wood products. 
The ban followed an announcement by the Prime Minister, Vo Van
Kiet, on August 20 while on a visit to the port of Qui Nhon, which
is the center of the timber industry, that all timber exports must
be stopped immediately and existing contracts cancelled.  The order
was issued in response to evidence that the regulations on cutting
and exporting timber were being widely flouted.  In the first six
months of 1993, 50,710 cubic meters of illegally cut timber were
seized and the number and volume of timber exported from the ports
of Danang and Qui Nhon alone was greater than the 618,000 cubic
meteres authorized for domestic consumption and export this year.

The ban was eased the following month when the Ministry of Commerce
issued a directive on September 22 permitting the export of
products made of two groups of rare and precious wood and of
ordinary wood processed in accordance with last year's circular. 
The products will have to be passed by the Forestry Service so as
to ensure that they are not dressed wood which could be used by
importers as raw materials.  

In the month leading up to the reversal of policy, timber
processors were complaining that the industry was on the point of
collapse.  According to the Bangkok Post, the ban sent the Prime
Minister's popularity plummeting among party officials in the
southern and central provinces where the party apparatus has come
to depend on timber exports as a major source of income.  This
criticism was echoed in the party press.  The organ of the
Federation of Labor, Lao Dong, claimed that the ban had not touched
the main culprits, corrupt officials who issued the logging and
export permits.  The army daily, Quan Doi Nhan Dan, said that it
was necessary to export timber products to earn money for
reafforestation.  Despite protestations to the contrary, the
military has a large statke in the timber industry.  The Prime
Minister's order forced three army-owned sawmills in Qui Nhon to
close.  Despite the Prime Minister's softening of his earlier
decision, illegal exports of timber are alleged to continue being
shipped through Qui Nhon.

3.   Related Cases

     USWOOD case
     MALAY case
     INDONES case
     TEAK case
     VIETWOOD case
     CHIPKO case

     Keyword Clusters         

     (1): Trade Product            = WOOD
     (2): Bio-geography            = TROPical
     (3): Environmental Problem    = DEFORestation

4.   Author:  Brian W. Hill

B.   LEGAL FILTERS

5.   Discourse and Status:  AGReement and INPROGress

6.   Forum and Scope:  VIETnam and UNILATeral

7.   Decision Breadth: 1

8.   Legal Standing:  LAW

C.   GEOGRAPHIC FILTERS

9.   Geography

     a.   Geographic Domain:       ASIA
     b.   Geographic Conflict Site:     East Asia [EASIA]
     c.   Geographic Impact Area:  Vietnam

10.  Sub-National Factors:  NO

11.  Type of Habitat:  TROPical

D.   TRADE FILTERS

12.  Type of Measure:  Export ban [EXBAN].

In August 1993 the Ministry of Commerce issued a provisional
blanket ban on the exports of wood products.  The ban followed an
announcement by the Prime Minister, Vo Van Kiet, on August 20 while
on a visit to the port of Qui Nhon, which is the center of the
timber industry, that all timber exports must be stopped
immediately and existing contracts cancelled.  The ban was eased
the following month when the Ministry of Commerce issued a
directive on September 22 permitting the export of products made of
two groups of rare and precious wood and of ordinary wood processed
in accordance with last year's circular.  The products will have to
be passed by the Forestry Service so as to ensure that they are not
dressed wood which could be used by importers as raw materials.  

However, enforcement of environmental laws in Vietnam has
traditionally been quite lax; it is probable the demand for
convertible currency and current economic difficulties will result
in a continuation of logging exports, despite legal bans.

13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts:  DIRect

14.  Relation of Trade Measure to Resource Impact

The Vietnamese national government decided to prohibit certain
types of the resource in question, Vietnamese forests.

     a.   Directly Related to Product:  Yes  WOOD
     b.   Indirectly Related to Product:     No
     c.   Not Related to Product:       No
     d.   Related to Process:           Yes DEFORestation

15.  Trade Product Identification:  WOOD

16.  Economic Data

Agriculture and forestry accounted for 51.7% of produced national
income in 1991 and employmentwas about 200,000.

17.  Impact of Trade Restriction: MEDium

18.  Industry Sector:  WOOD

20.  Exporter and Importer: VIETnam and JAPAN

Japan imported 13.5 million cubic meters from Vietnam and France 
2.3 million in 1992.

E.   ENVIRONMENT FILTERS

20.  Environmental Problem Type:  Deforestation [DEFOR]

21.  Species

     Name:          Many
     Type:          Plant/Angiospermae/Dicot
     Diversity:          NA

High degree of biodiversity in species type for this region. 
Deforestation has eliminated habitat for elephants, bears, tigers,
leopards, and the recently discovered and rare Javan rhino.

22.  Impact and Effect:  HIGH and REGULatory

23.  Urgency of Problem:  MEDium and 10 years

     At current rates of deforestation, Vietnam will no longer have
forests in the year 2000.

24.  Substitutes: RECYCling

F.   OTHER FACTORS

25.  Culture :  NO

26.  Human Rights:  YES

The major benefits from logging in Vietnam do not accrue to the
people who live in or near the forests.

27.  Trans-Boundary Issues

TRANS-BORDER:  Yes.  Vietnam's borders with Cambodia and Laos are
not easily patroled and allow for illegal trans-border shipments of
timber. 

28.  Relevant Literature

Economist Intelligence Unit.  EIU Country Report, 4th Quarter 1993,
Indochina:  Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia.  London:  EIU Ltd., 1993.

Gardner, Janet.  "Green Versus Greenbacks."  Choices, 2 (June
1993):  8-9.

Kemf, Elizabeth.  Month of Pure Light:  The Regreening of Vietnam. 
London:  The Women's Press, 1990.

Kemf, Elizabeth.  "Casualities of Vietnam's Recovery."  New
Scientist (14 September 1991): 40.

Land Resources Unit, Asia Technical Department, World Bank. 
Strategy for Forest Sector Development in Asia.  Washington, DC,
1992.





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