Vietnamese authorities have rejected as "wrong" the accusation by a Britain-based organization that the country has been using illegal timber for furniture exports.
The denial was made at a press briefing by officials from the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association and Vietnam Administration of Forestry from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
They said that the accusations, made by the NGO Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) at a conference in Bangkok in late July, has affected the prestige and brand of Vietnam's timber products in the world market.
Tran Duc Sinh, chairman of the timber association, said EIA had accused the Economic Cooperation Company of Military Zone No.4 and five other Vietnamese companies of buying illegal timber from Laos to produce wooden furniture for export to the US and European markets.
"This is a wrong accusation, which partly puts pressure on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement negotiation between Vietnam and the EU," Sinh said.
Nguyen Ton Quyen, General Secretary of the timber association, said that Vietnam does not use Lao timber to make furniture for exports.
"Timber imported from Laos is mostly used for the domestic market"¦, not for the US, EU or Japanese markets," he said.
Instead, furniture exports to these markets use planted timber which has received the Forest Stewardship Council certification, Quyen said.
Also, all Lao timber imported by Vietnamese firms is legal as the government of Laos has allowed the firms to exploit timber in the country under an annual target, he said.
The import of Lao timber by the accused firms have been found to be legal, the general secretary said.
Quyen said the EU and US markets are strict in importing wooden furniture from any country, including Vietnam.
However, not a single shipment from Vietnam has been rejected by the markets, he said.
The official said EIA's accusation came from an unclear investigation and was based on subjective assessments, which go against the organization's stated principles.
He said letters rejecting the accusation have been sent to EIA, EU's Department of Environment and representatives of the European Union in Hanoi since Wednesday last week but there has been no response yet.
According to the association, Vietnam exported US$3.4 billion of wooden furniture in 2010 and $2.4 billion so far this year, the Saigon Giai Phong said in a report.
Since last year, the country has become the top furniture exporter in the southeast Asian region and ranks tenth in the world, the report said.