Govt to ban rubberwood export

Changing the game: Dr Wee holding a press conference while Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong (in white) looks on.

JOHOR BARU: The export of rubberwood has been banned from tomorrow to address the shortage of the raw material faced by the local furniture industry.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who announced this, said the Cabinet decided this following complaints from the industry and exporters, most of whom were based in Muar.

He said the local furniture industry had an annual value of RM9.5bil, with 60% made by companies in Muar.

He said the rubberwood shortage was highlighted during a meeting with the Muar Furniture Association and Malaysia Furniture Council recently, with the issue listed as one of the two affecting the furniture industry. The other concerns the difficulty in getting manpower from Bangladesh, Dr Wee added.

“Due to the shortage (of rubberwood), we dropped to the ninth spot last year on the list of largest furniture exporters in the world. Malaysia was ranked sixth in 2015,” he told reporters after attending a Hari Raya open house hosted by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin in Permas yesterday.

Dr Wee said some RM200mil to RM300mil of rubberwood sawn timber was exported yearly to countries such as Vietnam and China, affecting the Malaysian furniture industry.

“We sell the raw material to other countries to process and re-sell it to us. The Cabinet made the decision as it realised that there was more potential in not exporting the rubberwood.

“By retaining the raw material in our country, we are able to value-add to our furniture industry, produce more furniture and create more opportunities,” he said, adding that the move could see an increase in the country’s furniture export value.

Dr Wee said the ban would be in force pending further notice.

He also added the move will provide relief for the industry.

The minister said the cost of the raw material had shot up to RM2,300 per tonne compared with RM1,600 previously.

In a letter to Dr Wee, Malaysian Furniture Council president Chua Chun Chai said the national furniture industry exported products to 160 countries.

“With the decision to stop the export of rubberwood, we believe that supply will return to normal and the Malaysian furniture industry will be able to perform at its optimum level,” he said.

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