KUCHING: The export value of Sarawak's wood products is expected to reach RM7bil by year-end after registering RM5.39bil in the first three quarters, said state Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
He said Sarawak still had the means to fulfill demand from the key traditional markets, namely, Japan, India, Taiwan, South Korea and the Middle East, with the export value at RM4.34bil from January to September this year.
"A number of steps have been taken to strengthen demand for Sarawak's products. This includes the promotion of wood sales, as well as participation in local and foreign exhibitions overseas, alongside meetings with industry associations of importing countries," he added.He said this in his winding up speech for his ministry in the state assembly here today.
Awang Tengah, who is also the Industrial Development Minister said 93% of the value of wood exports for the said period comprised three main segments.
"They are plywood/veneer worth RM3.25bil, timber(RM1.25bil) and sawn wood (RM486mil)," he added.
He said due to the downturn in the global economic climate which had yet to fully recover, the export value of wood products declined 2.8% from RM5.54bil last year, compared to RM5.39bil in the first three quarters of 2013.
For the same period, the export value of timber also dipped 7.9% from RM1.36bil in 2012 to RM1.25bil this year, while for sawn wood the dip was 17% from RM586mil to RM486mil.
However, the export value of plywood at RM3.08 billion and wood chips at RM41mil posted a four per cent and 31% improvement in the first three quarters compared to previously.
Answering a question posed by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa), he said the government had always emphasised on initiatives to empower the development of the downstream wood industry in Sarawak and the production of value added products.
"From the 1980's, the government has developed industrial areas in Pending here, Tanjung Manis, Kemena and Kuala Baram to locate plants related to downstream wood activities, as well as implement the log quota policy to ensure raw supply for processing by local industries," he added.
Awang Tengah said Sarawak was now the biggest producer and exporter of tropical plywood products in the region with the export value of wood products rising from RM2.11bil in 1988 to RM7.45bil last year.
"This is in addition to an increase of 874 wood-based plants last year compared to just 110 in 1988," he added. - Bernama