KL and Beijing close to resolving bird's nest export issue

BEIJING - There are no more major outstanding issues for the resumption of Malaysian bird's nest exports to China, except for some technical matters that should be resolved in the coming days.

Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin is now in China to settle the technical part, said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar.

Dr Abdul Aziz would also clarify any enquiries from his counterpart in China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on the protocol so that both parties would break the deadlock and get the ban lifted.

"The technical part of the protocol should be resolved in a week or two. Dr Abdul Aziz will not return to Malaysia until it is resolved.

"After that, I will present it to the Cabinet and eventually have it signed between Malaysia and China," said Noh after meeting AQSIQ minister Zhi Shuping here yesterday.

Noh said both countries had already agreed that only bird's nest products containing permissible nitrite levels of 30 parts per million (ppm) or below could be exported to China.

China is the largest export market for Malaysian bird's nest with 100 tonnes in 2010.

The swiftlet industry has been severely hit since the Chinese authorities halted bird's nest imports from Malaysia last July, when samples taken from the so-called blood nest products contained nitrite levels that did not meet China's health standards.

Many investors borrowed money from financial institutions to build swiftlet houses in Malaysia.

Agro Bank alone had given loans worth over RM1bil to investors.

"If this issue is not settled fast, the industry will fall apart," said Noh.

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