Reports are surfacing in Jakarta that Indonesia and the EU are preparing to announce a deal to ensure the legality of the country’s timber exports to Europe.

The Jakarta Post has reported that the EU and Indonesia government will sign a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) within three months.

The newspaper quotes Indonesia’s forestry ministry business development director-general Iman Santoso as saying an agreement was close. He said a deal was particularly important in light of the EU’s new illegal timber due diligence legislation which comes into effect in 2013.

African timber-producing countries have led the way in securing VPA agreements. Ghana, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon have all agreed VPAs.

Asian countries have so far struggled to make agreements, so a deal with Indonesia would mark a step forward in the region.

Timber trade between the EU and Indonesia is valued at about US$1bn.