KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's timber exports for 2017 is likely to surpass RM23 billion as global demand remain stable.
"In the 11 months of 2017, we posted RM21.40 billion in timber exports, the bulk of it contributed by sales of wooden furniture," said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
“Timber exports for 2017 should surpass RM23 billion,” the minister told reporters at the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) media night here today.
Malaysia’s timber are currently shipped to more than 162 countries, with India being a major market.
“In a move to tap more trade opportunities in India, MTC has recently opened its regional office in Bangalore,” Mah said.
Malaysia is one of the world's top tropical timber producers, of which the furniture sector is the star performer being among the world's Top 10 producers.
“The timber industry is still vibrant and sustainable,” he said, adding 80 per cent of exported furniture are made from rubberwood.
Malaysia’s timber sector is the biggest investors in tree planting. Since 2005, the government has initiated the Forest Plantation Development Programme to ensure sustained timber supply for downstream business such as furniture making.
Malaysia targets to establish 375,000 ha of forest plantations by 2020. This is achieved by planting 25,000 ha of good timber species per year for 15 years, starting from 2005.
Mah said his ministry is also formulating the National Oil Palm Trunk Development Plan to encourage furniture makers consider this as another option of raw material.
MTC has set aside RM3 million as incentive for small medium enterprises (SMEs) to purchase woodworking machinery.
“I encourage SMEs to take advantage of this incentive to adopt the latest technology in automation and mechanisation,” he added.