Video Conference - May 20, 2021. The CBFP private sector college held a special meeting. Moderated by the Co-Leader of the CBFP private sector college, Ms. Jacqueline Van de Pol (ATIBT), the meeting gathered close to twenty participants.
In his opening remarks, the CBFP Facilitator from Federal Republic of Germany, the Honourable Dr. Christian Ruck presented an overview of the status of implementation of the CBFP Facilitation Roadmap. His statement focused on the three major axes of the German CBFP Facilitation, namely: the implementation of the N’Djamena Declaration, regulating transhumance and efforts to combat transboundary poaching and the strengthening of dialogue with China.
He noted that Germany is preparing a symposium on tropical forests in order to put the Deal on the table, strengthen the Congo Basin’s capacities to negotiate at major conferences and obtain fair compensation commensurate with its conservation efforts.
The CBFP Facilitator clarified that it would be difficult to organize CBFP Meetings of Parties (MoPs) this year and that the meetings were postponed to early next year 2022.
He reaffirmed his ambition and wish to promote the great lungs of the world, particularly the Congo Basin which plays a crucial role for humanity in terms of carbon protection. A role which has become even more vital given the huge increase in forest degradation and deforestation in the Amazon Basin, resulting in a loss of forestry capacity and carbon saving capacity of the Amazon.
"Now or never, it's time for the Congo Basin to negotiate" Dr. Christian Ruck pointed out.
Due to the diversity and engagement of its members, the Private Sector is a key player in this process and is destined to play a role in helping achieve the Congo Basin’s objectives.
Following the CBFP Facilitator’s address, CBFP consultants took the floor with Mr Claus-Michael Falkenberg discussing progress in drafting the Declaration of ECCAS/COMIFAC States on the Congo Basin forests and their periphery. In this regard, he described the Declaration’s drafting process and pointed out that the Facilitation was awaiting comments from COMIFAC States on the Declaration. He ended his remarks by affirming that: "the Declaration is now in the hands of the ministers".
Several members of the private sector raised concerns about the Declaration, including:
- The ban on exports of logs effective from January 1, 2022.
This item came from a decision of CEMAC Ministers relating, among other things, to the ban on exports of timber logs by all Congo Basin countries, which comes into force on 1 January 2022;
- The creation of the Regional Committee for sustainable industrialization of the timber industry in the Congo Basin (CRIB);
- Regulations relating to the duties, organization and functioning of the CRIB;
- And the creation of special economic zones to establish primary, secondary and tertiary wood processing industries.
Regarding harmonized forestry taxation, the Ministers recommended during the same meeting that the CEMAC Commission should work with COMIFAC to develop guidelines on forestry taxation that the countries should incorporate into their national legislation. To this end, a summary note on the private position paper was presented, notably stating that: “The decisions were taken without consulting stakeholders, especially the private actors of the forest-wood sector. While these actors favour the development of Central Africa’s timber industry, they have some concerns about the terms for implementing provisions to foster this development. Indeed, without accompanying measures, an abrupt interruption in log exports is likely to affect the countries’ economies adversely in the short term, as was the case in Gabon in 2010. There is therefore a need to analyse each country’s context properly, and prepare the tools and means needed to establish local processing of timber logs in a manner that is beneficial to the economies of CEMAC member countries. "
The CBFP Facilitator responded by requesting that the private sector forward to its amendments on this point of the declaration, to him as soon as possible and he would relay the message to the Acting Chairman of COMIFAC.
The introductory presentation was delivered by Alain Karsenty, Researcher at CIRAD and was entitled “Forest taxation and log export ban - Advantages and disadvantages of a measure aimed at developing wood processing”.
A highly informative paper which was much appreciated by the participants, Alain Karsenty's presentation laid out figures on the origins of forest tax revenues and centred on the following: understanding the economic significance of added value, the opportunity cost of “processing everything”; intermediate consumption expenditure or value-added expenditure: What are some economic consequences? The dynamics of the ban on the export of logs and the emergence of processing overcapacity; Advantages and disadvantages; The option of limited protection: the log export rights market; from indirect to direct incentives; The bonus-malus mechanism needs to be a dynamic one.
Alain Karsenty's presentation is linked below:
Fiscality and ban on export of logs PFBC.pdf (1.2 MB)
Touching on the point regarding the activities of the CBFP private sector college, the Co-leader, Ms. Jacqueline Van de Pol (ATIBT) reiterated the need for the private sector to be inclusive and bring in private sector actors from outside the wood sector. She recalled that the private timber sector is increasingly being discussed within the CBFP, and that the time had come to create room for non-timber private sectors such as mining, eco-tourism, agro-industry, etc. … These actors are very important and play a major role in Congo Basin forests. A proposed solution put to the CBFP Facilitation was to include members of the eco-tourism and mining industries as alternate Co-Leaders. A reflection was also recommended to find ways and means of better organizing these actors to enable networking among them as obtains in the wood sector.
In his closing remarks, the CBFP Facilitator of the Federal Republic of Germany thanked the participants for their contributions and once again expressed his strong interest in working closely with all stakeholders. He said he remained open to any ideas aimed at better protecting the Congo Basin forests and especially ensuring that Central Africa’s voice is heard.