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Deforestation poses a serious threat to the natural environment, and many species of plants and animals. Illegal logging is a major obstacle to international efforts to promote responsible forest management. Among a number of nations working to meet this challenge is Indonesia.
On September 2nd, Indonesia and the United States convened in Jakarta, the first of its kind regional forum aimed at curbing illegal logging and promoting legal forest trade. Also participating in the "Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue to Promote Trade in Legally Harvested Forest Products" were Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, and Vietnam.
Mark Linscott, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, led a U.S. delegation that included the Department of State, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Agency for International Development. Indonesia's delegation was headed by Dr. Hadi Daryanto, the Director General of Forestry Production at the Ministry of Forestry.
"This regional dialogue illustrates the Obama Administration's commitment to finding effective and creative solutions to trade-related environmental challenges," said Mr. Linscott. "This dialogue allows us to exchange information, develop a common understanding of the issues, and to explore collaborative, regional approaches to address them. We were pleased that the discussion was candid and constructive and contributed to our collective understanding of the issue. Therefore, we look forward to continuing this process, including inviting more countries in the region to future meetings."
The U.S. and Indonesia developed the initiative through their bilateral Working Group on Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. This working group was created from a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, developed under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and was signed between the two countries in 2006 by Indonesia's Minister of trade and Minister of Forestry and the United States Trade Representative.
The Working Group consists of Indonesian and U.S. government officials, and meets 2 or 3 times per year. The Working Group provides a mechanism for consultation and enhanced cooperation to combat illegal logging, and promote sustainable management of Indonesia's forests.
The United States and Indonesia are working to build a Comprehensive Partnership to enhance cooperation bilaterally, regionally, and globally on a broad range of issues. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and Indonesia totaled $21.7 billion in 2008, and Indonesia's exports to the United States, including lumber, plywood, and wood-based furniture, totaled more than $1 billion.
The United States is committed to working with its partner Indonesia to promote trade and protect Indonesia's forests.