Surge in illegal log export from Cambodia, says report

PHNOM PENH: Illegal exports of timber from Cambodia to Vietnam surged in recent months despite an export ban aimed at countering rapid deforestation in one South-East Asia’s poorest countries, an environmentalist group said in a report.

The London-based Environ­mental Investigation Agency yesterday estimated that over 300,000 cubic metres of timber had been smuggled out of Cambodia since November.

It accused Vietnamese officials of taking bribes from smugglers to allow the timber to appear legitimate.

“This is the single largest log-smuggling operation that we have seen in years,” Senior Forests Campaigner Jago Wadley said.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry gave no immediate response to a request for comment on the accusations. Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan said some of the timber mentioned in the report might have received permission for export to Vietnam but declined to comment further. — Reuters

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