Laos closes wood processing plants to comply with PM’s Order

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - More than 500 wood processing plants and family-based furniture workshops have been shut since the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15 was issued in 2016.

Of the total 1,595 wood processing plants and furniture workshops functioning in Laos in 2016, only 1,086 plants remain, the Prime Minister, Thongloun Sisoulith, stated at the 7th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s legislature.

At the same time, the government promoted the production of 140,800 cubic metres of timber products worth around US$ 71.8 million in exports, he said.

The government is stringently implementing the Order and regulating the functioning of the timber industry.

In recent years, thousands of cubic metres of timber have been seized and auctioned off, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Many chainsaws along with numerous bulldozers, trucks, buses, tractors and other equipment used for illegal logging and transport have also been seized.

Forest authorities are scanning the details of wood seized and equipment used for illegal logging and transportation. 

Through the implementation of the Prime Ministerial Order, authorities in charge said they have been able to prevent numerous incidents of illegal logging, transportation and exports.

The Prime Minister’s Order also prohibits the export of unfinished wood products - to add value to wood products by processing them before shipping abroad.

The Order also requires wood processing plants to improve their operations to satisfy the government’s requirements as stipulated by the Order.

This means that plant operators need to invest appropriately to ensure their businesses meet the required standards to boost the Lao wood processing industry.

However, Lao wood and furniture producers have been facing significant challenges in exporting their products to foreign customers since the government defined the size of wood and furniture products for export by implementing the PM’s Order No 15.

Foreign businesspersons, especially Chinese entrepreneurs, need wood and furniture products from Laos, but many products up for export do not meet Lao government specifications, Vice President of the Lao Furniture Association, Mr Kongmala Phommalay, told the local media recently.

To ensure that Lao furniture products reach local and overseas markets, the association requires the relevant government sectors to resolve this issue, he said.

The association has proposed that authorities should prioritise the export of wood and furniture products purchased by foreigners at exhibitions in the country.