SUIFENHE (October 8, 2016) – Over the past three decades, Myanmar has lost 30% of its forest coverage. Careful diplomatic work has helped to reduce this deforestation by reigning in the illegal timber trade spurred by Chinese wood product companies. In order to sustain these efforts, which are critical to the country’s economics, geography, and population, Myanmar must foster a sustainable timber industry, focusing more on its manufacturing side.
In late September, GEI hosted a delegation of 8 Burmese officials, industrial association members and NGO practitioners in China to strengthen greater cooperation around forestry trade. As part of the exchange, the delegation visited a timber processing industrial park in Suifenhe City, Heilongjiang Province, in northeastern China to exchange technical expertise and industry management.
Located near the Russian border, Suifenhe City is considered to be China’s industrial wood manufacturing hub. While in Suifenhe, the Burmese delegation had the opportunity to learn about advanced technologies for manufacturing, operations, and management in the timber processing industry. Along the way, the delegation also visited the China-Russia border to learn about Russia’s “one-stop service” for customs and tax declaration for log imports, gaining insight on efficient border-crossing processes of goods.
Suifenhe wood industrial park follows the public-private partnership model, which brings together policy and private operations, and is an innovative operation. In addition, preferential policies from the central government and centralized industrial services for small and medium timber processing enterprises offer management and regulatory solutions for small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs), which are counterpart producers of timber exports in Myanmar.
To foster greater internal cooperation, the industrial park also facilitates business collaborations among the park’s SMEs through low-cost financial services and an online trading platform for timber products produced in the park.
“We are very excited to see how the industrial park is operated in PPP model and its innovative ways to support the development, cooperation and management of timber-processing SMEs in the park”, said by U Thein Win, Patron of Myanmar Forest Products Merchants Association.
Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Director-General of Forest Department of Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, also expressed strong interest in introducing similar models to Myanmar.
“We will discuss with our timber merchant associations and enterprises to see how we can do [this] in Myanmar,” he said.
After hosting the first exchange between Chinese and Burmese forestry sectors, GEI looks to facilitate greater exchange and cooperation between Myanmar and China. The technical know-how, along with strong leadership, holds the key to addressing Myanmar’s challenges of illegal logging, unsustainable management of natural forest resources and lack of domestic value-added processing.