Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities,Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (3rd left) along with Founder and Chairman of MIFF, Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat (fourth left) and Group Managing Director of ASEAN Business of UBM Asia, M Gandhi (2rd left) during the Malaysian International Furniture Fair 2018 official opening ceremony at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC). (NSTP/NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON)

KUALA LUMPUR: Furniture exports last year saw an increase of RM10.14 billion compared to RM7.58 billion in 2016.

Plantation Industry and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said wood products are in high demand with the export value up to 80 per cent or RM8.1 billion.

He said the increase was a very positive development, which indicated that the industry is able to contribute to the country's economy.

"Malaysian furniture is well received as we offer good quality products at reasonable prices.

"Our products are also growing in the world market, and every time I am abroad, I often get praises on the quality of our products we offer," he said after the launching of the Malaysian International Furniture Exhibition (MIFF) here today.

Also present were ASEAN Business (UBM) group managing director M Gandhi and MIFF founder and chairman Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat.

In maintaining local product performance, Mah said the government has also developed design centres to encourage young designers to produce local products.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has announced during Budget 2018, in providing financial support for Malaysian companies, RM200 million of export credit facility will be provided by EXIM Bank to local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and RM1 billion for credit insurance for companies.

The loan facility amounting to RM100 million with 70 per cent-government surety to encourage automation among the local furniture companies will definitely boost production for export.

"I would also like to recommend for more local products to be branded as it will be more added value," he said.

On the international level, Malaysia is one of the top 10 furniture manufacturers in the world, which exports products to more than 160 countries.

Mah also expressed confidence that by 2020, Malaysia will be able to achieve the export target of RM12 billion.

"Despite the decline in the value of the ringgit in the country, it does not directly affect the demand for furniture.

"Hence, the government will continue to support the development of the furniture industry through various initiatives to ensure that it continues to grow," he said.

Meanwhile, Tan said MIFF saw an increase of 13 per cent of the participation with 623 exhibitors.

"Due to the overwhelming response, this event is held on a larger scale involving 18 exhibition spaces with a total area of 100,000 sq metres.

"In fact, we are proud that it has also attracted participation from 135 countries including Japan, the United States and Korea," he said.

Themed 'Design Connects People', the four-day exhibition at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Center (MITEC) is now taking place until Sunday.

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