KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's timber and timber-derived products exports are expected to hit RM20bil to RM21bil this year, almost equalling last year's exports totalling RM20.5bil.
Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said the projection was in tandem with the sluggish global economic climate influencing demand and exports.
“The main recipient countries for our timber exports like the United States, Japan and several European nations are grappling with economic crisis, thus demand from them are uncertain at the moment. Earlier, we projected our timber export value to increase by 6% to 7% this year, but if we can maintain last year's export worth, I think it's good enough (given the current sluggish economic climate),” he told reporters after opening a national seminar on timber industry in the Industrial Building System (IBS) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Hamzah said political uncertainties in several Middle East countries are also expected to influence timber exports value as several countries from that region imported timber and timber-derived products from Malaysia.
He said although prices of other construction materials like cement and steel were uncertain in the market, that situation did not influence demand for timber so much as timber imports depended on requirements and affordability of a country.
On the domestic market, Hamzah said the local timber consumption was about RM7bil a year, with the housing sector being the biggest contributor to the figure.
To encourage higher use of local timber and boost its export value, he said the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) has embarked on a replanting programme to plant 25,000 trees of various species every year. “Over the next five years, we expect to plant about 125,000 timber trees. This move will ensure that we can meet market demand,” he added.
The seminar, jointly hosted by MTIB and Universiti Putra Malaysia, is to impart knowledge on opportunities to explore in the IBS particularly using timber as a construction material. - Bernama