PUTRAJAYA - There is good news for bird's nest exporters as China officially lifts its ban on the import of the product from Malaysia.
Although only eight companies were given the approval to export bird's nest, local industry players have described the decision as the best Chinese New Year gift.
Describing the move as timely in view of the upcoming celebrations, Federation of Malaysia Bird's Nest Merchant Association president Datuk Tok Teng Sai said that for local players, the lifting of the ban would end the long uncertainty on the fate of the industry.
Tok also urged local players to treasure the approval by being honest.
"The fact that China only allows bird's nest from Malaysia into their country should not be taken for granted. They trust us and with that comes the responsibility to protect Malaysia's name," he said.
Earlier yesterday, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysia was the only country given the approval to export bird's nest to China.
The approval letter from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) was received on Dec 25.
He said the eight companies were from nine which were granted a "conditional pass" to export the delicacy to the republic in June last year.
"It is not easy to pass China's stringent requirements. Since March last year, 15 companies had applied for the approval and nine were given the conditional pass.
"After further auditing by the authorities in China, only eight companies fulfilled the requirements," he told a press conference here yesterday.
Ismail Sabri said the approval was for Raw-clean Edible Bird's Nest (EBN) and the first consignment was expected to leave for China soon.
He said a ceremony to be attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would be held to mark the special occasion.
The eight companies are Sunshine Region Sdn Bhd, PT Swiftlet Marketing Sdn Bhd, Tian Ma Bird Nest Sdn Bhd, Kuan Wellness Sdn Bhd, Fucifagus Agritech Sdn Bhd, Yan Ming Resources Sdn Bhd, Golden Mah Bird's Nest Sdn Bhd and Yen Pao Lai (M) Sdn Bhd.