Impacts of the Laos Log and Sawnwood Export Bans

26 Apr 2017


In May 2016, the Government of Lao PDR enacted a Prime Ministerial Order (PM15) which, along with other commitments, aimed to help control the country’s high deforestation rates and promote Laos’ own domestic wood product industry by banning the export of all logs and sawnwood. This followed a Notice issued in August 2015 (No. 1360) which also prohibited the export of raw logs.

Effects of these regulations are now being felt by both the Vietnamese and Chinese timber industries. Vietnam and China together imported approximately 87 percent of all Lao timber product exportsin 2015 – almost all of which (94 percent) were in log or sawnwood form.

This report identifies the impact of the Lao government’s log and sawnwood export bans introduced in 2015 and 2016 by analyzing 2010-2016 Vietnam and China Custom Statistics for the imports of logs and sawnwood from Laos. The report focuses on Vietnam and China not only due to their significance to the export market, but also due to the high quality trade data provided by their customs agenciesthrough the end of 2016. Highlighted findings include:

  • Exports to Vietnam and China have dropped to 26 per cent of 2014 levels
  • Declines in exports to Vietnam were most prominent between 2015 and 2016, while declines to China were most prominent between 2014 and 2015
  • Despite the declines, trade still continued in 2016 – especially in rosewood species
  • Border crossings where trade continues can be identified, helping to pinpoint geographic areas for increased collaboration with local authorities
  • Pressure to modify the ban and recent Lao efforts to curtail annual harvesting levels remains high