International anti-poverty group World Growth says a EU-UK aid program to stop so-called illegal logging in developing countries will cause job losses across Africa and Asia, and is likely to break international trade laws.
The EU-UK Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program, which has cost EU taxpayers around €270 million, is a series of measures that is designed to block imports of timber products from Asia and Africa to the EU on the grounds that they are illegal.
According to a new report released by World Growth chairman Ambassador Alan Oxley today, the project will have almost no impact on illegal logging or deforestation, and will instead imperil small-scale industries such as handicrafts in developing countries.
‘The EU’s own data states that these measures will cut illegal logging by 1 per cent at best,” said Ambassador Oxley. “Its impact on global deforestation will be a reduction of less than 0.01 per cent.”
“The EU’s own analysis has projected that the measures will cause employment in forest industries to drop by around 14 per cent in recipient countries, and a decline in value-added in these countries of around 8.5 per cent. One independent analysis projects more than 100,000 job losses in Ghana alone.”
“The only winners in the EU analysis were poorly performing timber product manufacturers in the EU and other developed countries.”
Ambassador Oxley added that countries such as Indonesia, Ghana, Cameroon and Malaysia that have started FLEGT agreements with the EU had been promised a ‘fast track’ for timber exports to the EU. Instead, they have been faced with lengthy delays finalising the agreements.
“Not a single FLEGT agreement is functioning after more than six years of negotiating with 12 countries at an expense of around €270 million to EU taxpayers and wasted time, resources and jobs in developing countries.”
“Worse still, the FLEGT measures are likely to fall foul of international trade law. Developing countries would be well within their rights to take action against the EU at the World Trade Organization.”
“Last week the EU has agreed to its first-ever budget cuts. This should be the first program to be shut down. The EU has spent the past decade or more wasting money on programs that do little for the environment and stymie growth. They shouldn’t condemn the developing world to the same fate. ”
Contact World Growth at email@example.com or +61 3 9614 8022