Putrajaya (The Star/ANN) - The protocol for entry of cleaned bird's nest into China will be signed on September 20 after it gained support from most Malaysian bird's nest associations.
The agreement was achieved in a closed-door meeting held between the agriculture and agro-based industries ministry and representatives from 21 registered bird's nest associations in Putrajaya yesterday.
Minister Noh Omar and his deputy Chua Tee Yong met with 100 representatives from the associations in a discussion which ran for five hours.
"Although the majority gave their support for the protocol to be signed, some groups (mainly comprising swiftlet farmers) disagreed because they wanted raw uncleaned nests to be included in the protocol," Noh said in a press conference after the meeting at Wisma Tani.
"We have, however, advised them that we will pursue this issue in future agreements that may be made with China.
"Meanwhile, we need to get our bird's nest industry moving again first by signing the current protocol."
Raw uncleaned bird's nests generally contain higher nitrite levels.
Some 250 tonnes of Malaysian bird's nests were exported to China before the country imposed a ban in July last year after finding high levels of nitrites.
However, in April this year, the Chinese authorities signalled that they might lift the ban after setting conditions, which included a nitrite content level not exceeding 30 parts per million (ppm).
Bird's nests exported to China were also required to have radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for the whole supply chain and be furnished with certificates from the Veterinary Department and the health ministry.
Following the meeting yesterday, Noh said the associations also made suggestions to promote the growth of the industry.
Among them was the setting up of an advisory board comprising representatives from the industry and the ministry.
Noh added that he would write to China's General Administration on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to allow a forum for Malaysian bird's nest exporters to communicate issues directly with the Chinese after the protocol is signed between both countries.