LOCAL furniture manufacturers have called on the Federal Government to help the industry grow in light of declining exports.
Malaysia Furniture Entrepreneur Association (MFEA) president Lor Lean Sen said the decline started after the 2007 financial crisis and has yet to recover.
“The recent Japan tsunami, political instability in the Middle East and inflation of raw material prices have caused a contraction of furniture exports compared to last year.
“We hope that the Federal Government can implement export administrative relief measures, including adopting a fixed exchange rate of the US dollar against the ringgit and waiving the levy tax exemption of foreign labour for three years to help the industry grow,” he said.
Lor was speaking at the opening of Penfurnex 2011 at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) yesterday.
Penang Furniture Manufacturers and Dealers Association (PFMDEA) president Ngai Chin Soon said the fair, which started in 2004, had grown by a staggering 122% since its inception.
“When we started, there were only 45 exhibitors. Today, at the ninth Penfurnex, there are 100 exhibitors.
“Thus, we hope the state government can assist us by providing a bigger venue as this hall is no longer able to accommodate the growing number of exhibitors,” he said, urging the state government to help non-profit organisations like PFMDEA organise more local fairs.
Advising association members to invest in publicity and promotion, Ngai said it would otherwise be futile to have a corporate brand because “business will not come knocking by itself”.
He said a strategic publicity and promotion plan was necessary.
“I urge all of you to support the association by providing better service, unique designs, exquisite craftsmanship and quality products so that we can better brand ourselves,” he said.
In his speech, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government was forging ahead with the Penang International Convention and Exhibition Centre (sPICE) development despite protest from some quarters.
“PISA can no longer cope, which is why we need sPICE. We will try not to let the new development and upgrading works prevent exhibitors from utilising PISA but it will definitely have to be closed for certain months during the three-year project.
“An announcement will be made next month on when PISA will be unavailable. Nonetheless, for most part of the development, you will still be able to use the venue,” he said.
Organised by the PFMDEA, Penfurnex 2011 ends at 8pm tomorrow.