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Domestic Burmese companies can now afford to bid for raw timber since a ban on exporting wood came into force on 1 April, according to the Myanmar Timber Merchants Association (MTMA).
Bar Bar Cho, secretary of the MTMA, said domestic woodworkers and furniture manufacturers would previously only bid for low-quality raw timber as they could not compete financially with foreign exporters.
“Previously, Burmese wood craftsmen and manufacturers could only afford to bid for low-quality wood, but since the export ban was brought in, they have greater access to quality raw materials,” said Bar Bar Cho, adding that Burma’s wood and timber industries still have “much room to grow”.
Burmese forestry expert Kevin Woods was somewhat sceptical about the announcement. “I would be surprised if this effect is already in place in such a short period – in particular because it has been reported that the government would not cancel orders that have already been placed by foreign investors before the log export ban. Therefore, it would seem more plausible that there is not immediately available export-quality timber for the domestic timber processing industry,” said Woods, a researcher for the environmental rights group Forest Trends.
The Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, since 1 April, has approved permission to a foreign wood veneer manufacturer to invest in Burma and looks set to approve more companies in the future.
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