The effect of trade related environmental measures on the forest sector and timber trade of Peninsular Malaysia

Shanmugam, Sugumari (2015) The effect of trade related environmental measures on the forest sector and timber trade of Peninsular Malaysia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Global concern on illegal logging has led to the imposition of binding trade related environmental measures on trade of timber and timber products by developed countries like the US, EU and Australia. This dissertation examines the effect of the binding measures on Peninsular Malaysia’s forest sector and timber trade. Putnam’s two-level game theory is applied, to demonstrate the interdependence of politics at the international level with the domestic level. There is a need to have a “win-set” between the international and domestic levels whereby an agreement reached by stakeholders at Level II (discussions at the domestic level) will help to make the bargaining at Level 1 a success (bargaining between negotiators which leads to a tentative agreement). In the case of Peninsular Malaysia’s forest sector and timber trade, it has been acknowledged that the measures imposed by the EU through FLEGT VPA/EUTR and to a lesser extent by Australia through its ILPA/ILPAR as well as the US with its Lacey Act amendments, have brought about changes in policy and administration.

Thus, the Federal Government of Malaysia, specifically in the FLEGT VPA negotiations have an important task in managing domestic stakeholders’ demands for development, taking into account the unique Federal-State relations on land and forest matters as well as managing its international commitments to ensure trade in sustainable and/or legal timber. The policy reaction of the Federal Government of Malaysia to the measures imposed was analysed using Schoppa’s analysis of the concept of “synergistic linkages” and “reverberation”. On this note, case studies were conducted on Peninsular Malaysia’s forest sector and timber industry as well as the binding measures with specific focus on EU FLEGT VPA/EUTR. To substantiate the findings of the case studies, empirical evidence were gathered from primary interviews with experts from government or agency officials, Timber Industry Associations, environmental and social NGOs and international organizations. Further, focus group discussions were held with four states in Peninsular Malaysia to understand the position of the states. The findings show that it is important for the Federal Government to gain the support and commitment of State Governments on such measures. Therefore, the demands of State Governments for extra funding, resources, equipment and manpower to implement the sustainable and/or legal commitments need to be addressed. Furthermore, NGO criticism about not being properly consulted or given an effective role in government initiatives or meetings, also needs to be taken into account. There is also a need for greater political will by the Malaysian Government, to ensure the success of any negotiations or binding measures imposed. This dissertation indicates the importance of a Level II agreement to ensure the success of a Level I agreement of current negotiations pertaining to Peninsular Malaysia’s forest sector and timber trade.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Parfitt, Trevor
Keywords: sustainable forest management, timber trade, forest sector, trade and environment
Subjects: S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Politics, History and International Relations
Item ID: 31155
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2017 05:22
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2017 03:30

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