- By Myint Maung Soe
Myanmar has been recognised for producing valuable hardwood for the world’s timber trading, due to its favourable weather conditions and natural resources. Teak is the most valuable wood in the world, and Myanmar is regarded as the home of teak production.
The following are some excerpts from interviews with the officials concerned.
U Win Myint, Director of Trade Promotion Department
Forest product is an industry which can attract foreign currency and employment opportunities besides promoting GDP for the country. It was also listed in the National Strategy and there are hundreds of saw mills and other related factories across the country. Forest product plays a vital role in the export sector and has reached US$1.2 billion in 2007. Nevertheless we can still export these forest products to foreign countries due to our natural resources, climate condition and environment. Also there still remains a few forest products which cannot be exported such as raw logs and finished timber products to the foreign countries. Therefore we are going to develop the production as a sector-wide approach. As for our department, plans are underway to improve the process of logging timbers and finding new markets so that illegal logging will be completely wiped out in the country.
U Khin Maung Aye, Chairman of Central Cooperative Society
Forest products are one of Myanmar’s treasures, and anything included among forest products is valuable, whether they are animals or plants. We used to export logging timbers and at present, we handle manufacturing and logging activities which are a combination of sculptors and technology. We should find ways and means to sell our products in the world markets.
Myanmar produces teak, hardwood and Gum-Kino trees, which are world-renowned products. Another rare species of pine tree have grown only along the Myanmar-China borders. These trees had been planted in Putao region over thousands of years. Unfortunately, these trees no longer grow in this area, but some roots remain underground. We have been conducting to dig these rare pine trees for eight years. You can see many sculptures made of rare pine trees in the living rooms of houses in China. They value most these sculptures and we will try to produce these rare pine trees as a value-added products when the transportation system is good.
Many big trees in Myanmar had fallen down during the Cyclone Nargis. We can produce them as a valuable treasure with the combination of technology and innovation. Our Shwe Pyi Resort is situated in Bago and it is set on a 100-acre compound with many sculptures. Moreover we are trying to be listed in the world’s record with the aim of displaying a variety of sculptures from Myanmar. The government should encourage developing value-added forest products and relax some strict regulation which can be prevented from illegal timber trading.
U Aye Lwin, Chairman of ASEAN Furniture Council
Forests have long played an integral role in the development of national economies. The Ministry of Forestry had earned $300 million annually from exporting logging timbers. The export volumes have risen from $500 million to $1 billion in 1997. According to the data, 90 per cent of export earnings were from raw logs and finished logging products. Our country has managed to earn up to $ 500 million while other ASEAN countries could earn $ 2 billion or $ 3 billion annually. That’s why I’d like to request the government to relax some undesirable rules and regulations for the benefits of the people and the state; to encourage wood-based industry and increase job opportunities for the people; to reinforce rules of laws for the people who live in the legal-fold; to support financial aids for the businessmen and to take action against some businessmen who violate the rules.
Forest products remains as an important source of foreign exchange in the country and cooperation is of great importance to maintain the sustainable development of Myanmar’s forests, therefore effective approaches should be made to get benefits to the industry and economy in Myanmar.
Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung