Congo Basin Updates

Friday, 19 March 2021
FSC Congo Basin is looking for a Consultant fluent in Mandarin in Gabon


Find below the Terms of References for this consultancy

Consultancy Opportunity to Identify Chinese Actors in theGabon Timber Sector who could be interested in FSC Certification

All FSC certificate holders in Africa have ownership / management / investors coming either from the ‘West’ or from the South Africa. But the footprint of such companies across the continent is shrinking, being replaced by investment from Asia, and China in particular. Much of the timber they extract heads to Asia. The high-value wood and wood products from Africa are used in the manufacturing of furniture that are sold locally in Asian markets, and also exported to OECD countries where FSC certification is known to provide market benefits. Our expectation is that, for the foreseeable future, Asian investors will be involved in a large proportion of the 140 million hectares of productive forests in the Congo Basin that are currently uncertified. FSC therefore needs to engage more with this market segment.

The Gabonese’s government declaration that all concessionaires should become FSC certified presents a clear opportunity to align Chinese import requirements for legal timber from Gabon around FSC certification. Gabon’s location on the Atlantic Ocean means that logistical costs are lower than inland competitors like the Republic of Congo and DR Congo, so that the timber should still remain competitively priced even if prices rise a little. Much of the tropical timber entering China stays in China, but some is re-exported as finished, or near-finished, products to OECD markets where we know FSC certification provides market benefits either in terms of market access or a small price premium.
FSC is seeking to identify where are the opportunities to engage constructively in the Africa – Asia – OECD value chains, and to place the value chains in context. In particular we seek to identify actors amongst the following who might be interested in collaborating to develop an FSC-certified value chain:

A. Chinese concessionaires in Gabon
B. Chinese importers of tropical timber from the Congo Basin
C. Chinese wood product manufacturers using tropical timber products
D. OECD-based retailers sourcing finished or near-finished tropical wood products in China
FSC wishes to engage a consultant (or consultants) in Gabon to identify Chinese forest concessionaires and timber exporters who could be receptive to this opportunity, and to help FSC understand the nature and context of their business model. The consultancy will complement a similar effort by FSC China working with importers and wood product manufacturers.

1. List Chinese forest concessionaires operating in Gabon, identifying at least five who could be interested in FSC certification and what would motivate them.
2. List the main products sold by these businesses (product category, physical dimensions, species, quality classification).
3. Ask whether or not those products are profitable to produce and therefore likely to be continued, or whether new markets are needed.
4. Ascertain, as far as possible, the uses put to their products by their customers in China.
5. Identify the exporters they use.
6. Describe each of the identified businesses.
7. Describe the main challenges facing these businesses, and the opportunities they can see.
8. Outline the business case for their potential interest in FSC certification.
9. Identify the best entry points to effectively engage and maintain Chinese concessionaires’ interest in FSC certification.
Sectoral Focus

FSC believes that the main opportunities are likely to lie within the flooring, composite boards, windows & doors value chains. Thus the consultancy should, where possible, focus mainly on Chinese businesses in Gabon supplying such value chains, but FSC is also open to suggestions of opportunities in other wood-based product value chains.

Consultant Characteristics
The consultant must be fluent in Mandarin, have sufficient competency in English and/or French to write at least basic reports, and able to operate in Gabon.

Preferably the consultant should also have one or more of:
• Familiarity with the Chinese business community in Central Africa, ideally in Gabon specifically, with a network of contacts there
• Experience with the timber trade
• Basic understanding of the key concepts of forest certification and legality compliance
• Contacts within the Chinese timber processing industry and familiarity with their needs
It is expected that the task will be best suited to a single consultant rather than a team.
The consultant will report to the FSC Congo Basin Coordinator (based in Libreville), and interact with the FSC Africa Deputy Director and FSC China Director.

If you are interested
If you think you could carry out this consultancy please send an email with your contact details to fscafrica at fsc point org by April 2, 2021. Full proposals will be due by April 16, 2021.

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