Timber exports from Malaysia are forecast to increase by 5% in 2018, from RM 23.22 billion in 2017, due to the high demand for the country’s timber products from developed countries such as Japan, the United States, European Union members and Australia, as well as India.
As the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) director-general Datuk Dr Jalaluddin Harun said, the timber products from Malaysia have a high quality, which meets market specifications, The Sun Daily reported.
"We are currently exporting our products to more than 160 countries, but after this we will focus on countries that we have free-trade agreements with, like New Zealand, Turkey and Pakistan," he said after opening MRSZ Two Enterprise Sdn Bhd's showroom here today.
The country will face shortages of raw materials and skilled workers, so it will be difficult to meet the export demand as to achieve the export target of RM28 billion by 2020.
"Eighty per cent of our furniture is made up of rubber woods besides other tropical timbers. As demand from developed countries is high, sometimes we have to ban the exports (of rubber furniture) due to shortages of rubber materials," he said.
On the involvement of bumiputra companies in the national timber industry, Jalaluddin Harun added that it is still very low and lagging as it made up only 0.7% or RM161 million of total exports last year. In fact, currently only 341 bumiputra companies are active in the industry, of which 46% are micro-status companies with total revenue of RM500,000 and below each year and only one medium-sized company with income ranging from RM15 million and RM50 million a year, The Sun Daily reported.
“This is a sorry state of affairs as most of them are bogged down by low technology, manual work, lack of promotion and imprudent financial management," he said, adding that the situation will not change if entrepreneurs are still not progressive in expanding their business.
MRSZ Two Enterprise, a bumiputra timber-based company which received an MTIB raw material grant of RM20,000 in 2010, earned RM1.09 million in revenue last year.