According to a report in the Jakarta Post, figures issued by the Forestry Ministry reveal that forest products exports rose by 11.8% to US$3.8bn in the first half of this year, up from US$3.4bn last year.

Forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan said the introduction of the EUTR in March had a positive impact.

In February the European Parliament gave its consent for the conclusion by the Council of the EU of the VPA with Indonesia. The next step will be the Council’s official ratification of the agreement. Ratification is the final step to make the bilateral treaty legally binding.

Once the agreement is ratified, it brings Indonesia and the EU one step closer to issuing FLEGT-licensed timber, which will take place when both parties assess that Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system meets the requirements set out in the VPA. Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system is called Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK) in Indonesian.

To advance VPA implementation, Indonesia and the EU agreed on an action plan in November 2013. The plan is based on the results of the independent assessment of the SVLK conducted in 2013. The next independent assessment will take place in the second half of 2014, after the first meeting of the joint implementation committee which oversees VPA implementation.

Previously, deputy trade minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said that Indonesia expected a 5-7% increase in timber exports during the initial phase of the VPA.