International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

International bamboo and rattan trade: Key takeaways

7 Jan 2020

The latest trade statistics show that bamboo and rattan exports continue to benefit many people around the world.

In 2019, INBAR produced two reports based on an analysis of trade data: one charting international trade in bamboo and rattan products, and another focusing specifically on China. Both reports are freely available on INBAR’s online library. The key takeaways are as follows:

With an industry valued at USD 39 billion in 2018, China is indisputably the world’s largest producer of bamboo and rattan products. However, it is far from the only country which profits from native bamboo and rattan: the INBAR report identifies a large number of countries which trade in these products. Key exporters include the EU, Indonesia, Vietnam, the USA, the Philippines and Thailand.

International trade figures can only give an incomplete picture of bamboo and rattan trade. China is a case in point: exports in 2018 accounted for USD 2.2 billion, or just 5 per cent of the sector’s overall trade value. The vast majority of bamboo and rattan trade is still conducted within countries.

Flooring, panels, cladding and more: bamboo- and rattan-based commodities continue growing in variety, and highly processed, industrial products comprise an increasingly large share of international exports.

Furniture and woven items made from bamboo and rattan continue to be traded in large amounts. Woven bamboo products make up the largest proportion of global exports, with an estimated USD 380 million exported in 2017. Bamboo shoots, a delicacy in many Asian countries, also continue to be exported in bulk.

Due to their resemblance to wood products, it is likely that a large amount of the international trade in bamboo and rattan products is mis-classified under the UN’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems (HS). Countries with a wider range of appropriate codes, and an increased capacity to identify bamboo and rattan products, show that the real figure may be much higher: data provided by China Customs alone adds over USD 1 billion more to the total export of bamboo and rattan products, putting the global export value in 2017 at over USD 2.7 billion.

By the end of 2018, INBAR had 44 Member States, which comprised 86 per cent of the world’s exports of bamboo and rattan products. Many of INBAR’s Member States have a long history of bamboo and rattan use, and rich native resources. However, North American and European markets are now trading more and more in bamboo and rattan products too.

Bamboo and rattan can be nature-based tools to combat some of the twenty-first century’s most pressing challenges. They provide important ecosystem services, as well as a critical source of income to some of the world’s poorest rural communities. Increasingly, engineered bamboo products are also providing a durable, low-carbon solution in the fight against climate change.

International trade in bamboo and rattan is a crucial indicator of the development of the bamboo and rattan sector, but there remain several critical gaps in our knowledge. In these reports, INBAR identifies a number of ways to improve monitoring of international bamboo and rattan trade. In particular, the UN’s HS system must be revised to allow for better monitoring of bamboo and rattan products. Great steps have already been made. Prior to 2007 there were only 10 HS codes covering bamboo and rattan commodities; with the efforts of INBAR, the World Customs Organization and Chinese Customs, 14 new codes for bamboo and rattan have been put into effect since 2007. In 2018, there were 24 HS codes for bamboo and rattan, providing greater transparency about trade.

Trade Overview 2017: Bamboo and Rattan Commodities in the International Market can be downloaded in English (here) and Chinese (here).

Trade Overview 2018: Bamboo and Rattan Commodities in China can be downloaded in English (here) and Chinese (here).

INBAR maintains an online trade database where users can access information about imports and exports of various bamboo and rattan products, based on their code / the commodity type / year / area / country / trading partner and HS nomenclature.