European Union and Malaysian officials are in the last phase of negotiations about the country signing up to a bilateral voluntary partnership agreement aimed at helping to ensure the legality and sustainability of European timber imports.

The news, reported by Bernama news agency, follows statements made last year by European Commission ambassador and head of delegation of the European Commission to Malaysia Vincent Piket predicting an agreement in the first three or four months of 2009.

Outstanding issues are hoped to be resolved during summer meetings.

Meanwhile, the UK Central Point of Expertise on Timber is expected to confirm this week that the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme has now met all conditions for it to be regarded as legal and sustainable for government procurement contracts.