Fu Gui, deputy director from China’s forestry management department, said that China would increase cooperation with Myanmar to combat smugglers and timber traders.
He said China would stress the bilateral relationship and encourage timber trade through legal channels.
He represented China at the meeting with Myanmar leaders on September 24.
“Illegal timber trading along Myanmar’s borders damages the image of both countries,” said Win Tun, Myanmar's environmental conservation and forestry minister.
George Dura from the European Forest Institute suggested at the meeting that both countries should strengthen their customs and trade departments to combat smuggling.
“We spoke to officials from the central government about the illegal timber trade as it’s no longer left with the Yunnan provincial government,” said deputy director Kyaw Kyaw from Myanmar's Forest Department.
The lucrative trade is blamed for corrupting Yunnan’s administration. President Thein Sein spoke to Yunnan officials about the illegal timber trade during his recent visit to China. A report conducted by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says timber smuggling from Myanmar to China remains high.
This year, a score of Chinese nationals were arrested for having been involved in illegal logging.
EIA’s report showed that the Chinese timber trade last year amounted to about US$25 billion, 18 per cent of which was from Myanmar and 12 per cent was tamalan or rosewood, worth between $3 billion and $4.6 billon. Of that, Myanmar received about $200 million in return.
The report also said that from 2000 to 2014, up to 10 million tonnes of timber were illegally smuggled to China with Myanmar receiving about US$2.7 billion. According to the report, tamalan is prized and difficult to work from raw timber into finished products, meaning profit margins are high.
Tamalan costs 30,000 yuan (Ks6 million) a tonne if more than one foot in girth and 15,000 yuan if below a foot.
Three pieces of tamalan furniture cost around 68,000 yuan with a table made from endangered padauk costing around 27,000 yuan, the report said.