Malaysia has pledged its willingness to sponsor a joint ASEAN-European Union initiative to combat illegal logging and trade in illegally sourced timber.

The minister of primary industries, Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik, who recently led a timber mission to Germany, Belgium and Scandinavian countries, also said Malaysia was willing to co-operate with the EU in meeting the objectives of an EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade.

While abroad, Dr Lim urged the authorities in the countries he visited not to ban the use of tropical timber in public sector projects.

In a statement this week Dr Lim said he informed key Scandinavian ministers that measures taken to curb illegal logging were beginning to take effect.

He added: “I took the opportunity to explain about Malaysia’s efforts for sustainable development of our forest resources and the implementation of the Malaysian Timber Council Certification (MTCC) forest and timber certification scheme.”

He urged the countries visited not to give preference to any one certification scheme, adding that others, including the MTCC scheme, should be recognised. It already is in Denmark, he said, and he hoped other countries would follow suit.

Malaysia’s government claims the National Forestry Act is proving a deterrent against illegal logging. Twenty-six people had been jailed for illegal logging in the past 10 years – a drastic drop in cases.