The European Union and Indonesia signed here Monday a trade agreement which will contribute to halting the trade in illegal timber. The deal was "aimed at facilitating the trade of legal timber that will contribute to poverty alleviation, job creation and support economic growth, while maintaining environmental quality," said Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan in Brussels. Indonesia is the first Asian country to enter into such an agreement, and by far the largest Asian timber exporter to the EU. The EU is a key market for Indonesian forest products with the total average annual value of timber and paper exports from Indonesia reaching USD 1.2 billion which is around 15 percent of Indonesia’s exports. The agreement was negotiated over six years, with strong involvement of NGOs and businesses as well as government officials. Similar agreements have already been signed between the EU and some African countries.