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Bamboo trade deficit to be eliminated in 5 years: MTIB
Published on: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) said today exports of bamboo-based products could be boosted so as to eliminate the industry's trade deficit within the next five years with the transformation of the local industry.Its Director General Dr. Jalaluddin Harun said Malaysia's bamboo exports, currently averaging around RM250,000 annually, can be boosted by introducing value-added products to match or even exceed the country's bamboo imports, valued at RM4.3 million in 2014.

"The transformation of our current bamboo industry into a new era of higher value-added products will enable the industry to start contributing to the national economy," he told a media conference on the sidelines of the inaugural 'International Seminar on Bamboo' here Tuesday.

The two-day event that began Tuesday covers bamboo plantations, harvesting and preservation, product development, machinery as well as promotion and marketing, and is attended by representatives from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and the International Centre for Bamboo Research (ICBR), as well as local and Asean participants.

Jalaluddin said the transformation efforts now focus on the creation of more value-added products, establishing the right supply chains and identifying the technical requirements to encourage technological innovation.

Bamboo products in construction and architectural works such as for flooring, flooring skirting, frames and doors, as well as dining set furniture could be developed as new local value-added products, he said, pointing out that bamboo's 'green material' status would be its biggest selling point.

He said bamboo is now considered as an important alternative material to timber, and the government through the MTIB is implementing activities according to the Bamboo Industry Development Action Plan for 2011-2020.

The action plan covers the establishment of bamboo plantations and sustainably managed existing natural resources, development of value-added products, research and development, and marketing, trade and promotion.

Earlier, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas in his opening speech highlighted INBAR statistics showing the global bamboo industry generates annual revenue of US$11 billion which is expected to reach between US$15 to US$18 billion by 2018. (US$1=RM3.58).

Malaysia currently exports basic bamboo items such as basketry, satay skewers, sticks and joss sticks, while main imports include round bamboo from Indonesia and laminated panels from China mainly used for flooring.

"Bamboo can be promoted as a plantation material due to its short maturity period of between three to five years.

"I am optimistic that in the coming years, the bamboo industry will be able to export more value-added products," he said in his speech read by the ministry's Chief Secretary Datuk Himmat Singh. – Bernama



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