Malaysia halts sand exports to Singapore

Imports and Exports | 10 July 2019

A ban on sand exports from Malaysia to Singapore has just come to light.


Malaysia has stopped selling sand to Singapore, throwing the island nation's plans for expansion into jeopardy.

Last year, Singapore imported 59 million tonnes of sand from Malaysia, according to United Nations Comtrade data, which accounted for around 97 per cent of its sand supplies.

Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has grown from 224 square miles to 280 square miles, an expansion that has largely been possible due to reclaimed sand being used to fill in coastal areas.

It has plans to further increase its land area by 2030, including the development of the Tuas port to become the world's biggest container terminal.

However, it may now be forced to alter its plans and look to other suppliers if it is unable to obtain sand through traditional trade routes.

According to Reuters, Malaysian prime minister Mohamad Mahathir imposed a ban on exporting sand to Singapore in October 2018, but it has only come to light in the past few days.

There have been suggestions that Malaysia was unhappy concerning Singapore's expansion using its own resources, but the prime minister's press secretary insists the ban came about due to environmental reasons.

Indeed, a recent UN report warned that sand is being extracted worldwide at a rate too fast to ensure replenishment.

Singapore will now look to Bangladesh, the Philippines and Burma to replace its sand supplies.