WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced an agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that addresses U.S. concerns in the Vietnam Timber Section 301 investigation. This is the first 301 investigation to address environmental concerns. The Agreement secures commitments that will help keep illegally harvested or traded timber out of the supply chain and protect the environment and natural resources. Ambassador Tai determined that the Agreement provides a satisfactory resolution of the matter subject to investigation and that no trade action is warranted at this time. Going forward, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will monitor Vietnam’s implementation of the Agreement.
“I commend Vietnam for its commitment to address our concerns regarding the importation and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “With this Agreement, Vietnam will provide a model – both for the Indo-Pacific region and globally – for comprehensive enforcement against illegal timber. USTR looks forward to working with Vietnam to deepen collaboration and information exchange, including through a newly created Timber Working Group.”
The Agreement contains multiple commitments by Vietnam on issues related to illegal timber, including commitments to improve its Timber Legality Assurance System; keep confiscated timber (i.e., timber seized for violating domestic or international law) out of the commercial supply chain; verify the legality of domestically harvested timber regardless of export destination; and work with high-risk source countries to improve customs enforcement at the border and law enforcement collaboration.
“Illegal timber in the supply chain damages the global environment and the natural resources on which we all depend, and is unfair to U.S. workers and businesses who avoid such timber,” added Ambassador Tai. “USTR’s first use of Section 301 in this investigation shows the strength of using this tool to address concerns regarding environmental risks or the enforcement of environmental laws.”
The USTR investigation was initiated in October 2020 under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The full text of the Agreement is available here. The Federal Register notice summarizing the Trade Representative’s determination provides additional background, and is available here.