“(Business in Cameroon) - In just a few years, Vietnam has become the second-largest market for Cameroonian timber (after China), while Cameroon has become the largest supplier of tropical logs to Vietnam (accounting for 25 percent of the logs imported between 2016 and 2019, in value). In Vietnam, Cameroonian logs have replaced the Southeast Asian species that previously filled the market.”
This statement is the introductory note of a 3-year investigation carried out by two NGOs. Titled TAINTED TIMBER, TARNISHED TEMPLES: How the Cameroon-Vietnam Timber Trade Hurts the Cameroonian People and Forests, the report was produced by Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement (CED) and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
It reveals that “the exploding Cameroon-Vietnam timber trade relies on shocking schemes and illegal activities.”
Those violations and schemes include “Widespread Violation of Export Law,” “Illegal Harvest and Disregard for National Parks” and “Laundering Operations Covered by Paperwork.” Indeed, “ to meet the requirements of Vietnamese authorities, trading companies have focused their efforts on obtaining Cameroonian paperwork while disregarding the actual origin of the timber placed on the Vietnamese market,” the authors commented.
For instance, they illustrate, “ a senior-level employee from Dai Loi Trading Co. Ltd. (Công ty TNHH Thương Mại Đại Lợi, “Dai Loi”), the largest Vietnamese company operating in Cameroon and one of the three largest timber importers in Vietnam, claimed that he does not care about the origin of the timber even if the timber he is placing on the Vietnamese market were to come from terrorist groups, as long as the proper paperwork is provided.”