International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Shooting Upward: Bamboo and Rattan Trade


Shooting Upward: Bamboo and Rattan Trade

The latest statistics suggest international trade in bamboo and rattan products reached USD 3.25 billion in 2018.

Bamboo and rattan are two of the most valuable non-timber forest products in the world. Fast-growing, renewable and versatile, these plants have been used for thousands of years as a source of fibre, fuel and food. Bamboo and rattan are already an important part of poverty alleviation and income generation efforts across INBAR Member States.

Monitoring international trade in bamboo and rattan products is a critical part of developing a larger, more sustainable sector. As the International Commodity Body for bamboo and rattan, INBAR collates international trade data for these plants and their products every year, using the latest available data from the UN Comtrade database. A separate report, using national trade data, is created for China, which is both the world’s largest importer and exporter of bamboo and rattan goods.

Data from these sources takes a while to be finalised: as such, the latest available international information is from 2018; the latest information from China is 2019.

INBAR’s latest reports show that:

Of this, the international trade value of bamboo products was USD 2.9 billion; the international trade value for rattan products was USD 350 million.

These figures do not account for the total value of bamboo and rattan trade, which is primarily domestic, as the case of China shows…

According to the China Bamboo Industry Association, the total output value of the bamboo industry in 2019 was as high as CNY 300 billion (USD 46 billion). National customs statistics show the country’s total international trade of bamboo and rattan products was USD 2.26 billion, of which bamboo products accounted for USD 2.14 billion, and rattan products USD 120 million.

In its 2017 report, INBAR estimated the overall value of international bamboo and rattan trade at USD 1.7 billion. Why the jump to USD 3.25 billion in 2018?

The apparent ‘bump’ is due to the newly expanded range of Harmonized System (HS) codes for bamboo and rattan products, introduced in 2018.

HS codes provide a way for countries to classify imports and exports. Historically, bamboo and rattan products have often been mis-classified as ‘timber’, due to a lack of more accurate codes: something which INBAR has been working to solve with the World Customs Organization and Chinese Customs.

The 2018 HS codes, which include options for new types of woven products, building materials and more, allow countries to report more accurately on bamboo and rattan trade. It is likely that in future years, the figures for bamboo and rattan trade will grow further.

In 2018, Asia remained by far the most significant exporter of bamboo products (comprising 80 per cent total exports). North America (comprising Canada and the USA) and Europe (countries of the European Union) are also becoming increasingly important trade regions: in 2018, Europe exported USD 340 million worth of bamboo products, or 12 per cent of total exports, while North America exported USD 210 million, or 7 per cent. Together, these three regions make up the bulk of international trade.

The 2018 international trade report, and the 2019 China trade report, are available on the INBAR Resources Centre. The INBAR Trade Database can be viewed here.


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