The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) is confident Malaysia's export of timber and timber products can reach RM23 billion this year, following the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Its Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the ministry through the Malaysia Timber Industry Board (MTIB) and Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) would strive to ensure the local wood-based industry will remain competitive in both the domestic and global markets.
At the same time, he urged MPIC to always monitor the industry so that it complies with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government.
"The ministry is confident the export performance is able to achieve RM23 billion in 2021 especially with the availability of the vaccines which are expected to ease the Covid-19 transmission.
"The economic recovery in major timber importing countries such as the United States (US) and China, as well as increasing demand from other countries would drive the wood industry to remain positive throughout 2021," he said in a statement today.
Mohd Khairuddin shared the export performance of timber-based products for 2020 which recorded a good achievement, although the Covid-19 pandemic has still not ended.
He said the export value stood at RM22.02 billion, recording a decline of only 2.0%, compared with RM22.5 billion in 2019.
"The performance reflected a positive recovery phase when compared other industries which recorded huge contraction due to the challenges in raw material supply and market demand brought about by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Export value of timber products started to increase on a monthly basis from May to December 2020 which was during the recovery phase. Companies producing wood-based products particularly furniture, plywood, moulding, and joinery revived their operations to meet orders from the export market," he said.
According to him, the performance of high-value-added products such as furniture, joinery and moulding registered an 11 per cent growth with export value of RM12.3 billion compared with RM11.1 billion in 2019.
Out of this, wooden furniture remained as the major product with an export growth of 16% to RM10.6 billion, from RM9 billion in 2019.
However, wood joinery and moulding saw a decline of 6.0% and 21% to RM972 million and RM688 million against RM1 billion and RM872.1 million respectively in 2019.
Meanwhile, export of sawn timber which is a key product recorded a decrease of 29% to RM2.4 billion, from RM3.4 billion in the previous year.
Besides that, export of plywood for 2020 fell 17% to RM2.8 billion, compared with RM3.8 billion in 2019.
This was because of the drop in export to Japan which is a major buyer of Malaysian plywood due to the contraction in the construction industry, as well as competition from other producing countries such as Indonesia and China.
"The major markets for timber products which recorded growth were the US and China. Both markets accounted for 44% of Malaysia's total exports.
"The US recorded an increase of 50% to RM7.4 billion, compared with RM5 billion in 2019," said Mohd Khairuddin.
He added that the growth was influenced by the US government's economic stimulus for the construction industry during the Covid-19 pandemic and growth in e-commerce, which led to the increase in demand for Malaysia's timber products.
China, meanwhile, registered an increase of 23% to RM2.3 billion in 2020, against RM1.8 billion in 2019.