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, jumped 33.8 per cent to RM10.14 billion from 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 of 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 seeing growing interest in the world market. Every time I am abroad, I often get praises on the quality of the furniture 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 innovative prototypes.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak highlighted that under the Budget 2018, EXIM Bank will provide RM200 million of export credit facility to local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and RM1 billion as credit insurance for bigger companies.

There is also RM100 million in loan with 70 per cent-government surety to encourage local furniture manufacturers to automate and boost production for export.

"I would also like to recommend more local products to be internationally branded so as to add value to our exports," he said.

Malaysia is one of the top 10 furniture manufacturers in the world, with shipments to more than 160 countries.

Mah is confident that by 2020, Malaysia will be able to achieve the export target of RM12 billion.

"Despite the volatile ringgit fluctuation against other major currencies, it does not directly affect the demand for furniture.

"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.

"We are proud that it has also attracted participation from 135 countries including Japan, the US and South 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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