Tim­ber coun­cil zooms in on China

> Huge mar­ket for Malaysian ex­porters to tap, In­dia also seen as po­ten­tial tar­get

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY EE ANN NEE

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Tim­ber Coun­cil (MTC) is fo­cus­ing its ef­forts on in­creas­ing ex­ports of Malaysian tim­ber and tim­ber prod­ucts to China.

MTC chair­man Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng said al­though China has a huge mar­ket, it is dif­fi­cult to pen­e­trate as it is com­pet­i­tive there.

“China has a big pop­u­la­tion and many tiered mar­kets. Start­ing from last year, we’ve been work­ing on hav­ing more busi­ness-match­ing ses­sions and us­ing new ap­proaches through por­tals to pen­e­trate the mar­ket,” he told Sun­Biz in an in­ter­view re­cently.

Malaysian tim­ber and tim­ber prod­uct ex­ports to China are still low cur­rently, said Wee. But China is ex­pected to im­port more tim­ber and tim­ber prod­ucts in 2016 to ful­fil lo­cal de­mand.

MTC aims to set up a re­gional of­fice in In­dia by year-end. The coun­cil cur­rently has three re­gional of­fices – in Guangzhou, Dubai and Lon­don.

In­dia is seen as an­other po­ten­tial mar­ket for the Malaysian tim­ber in­dus­try given its ex­pand­ing mid­dle class, in­creas­ing per capita in­come, rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion and growth of the real es­tate sec­tor. There will be grow­ing de­mand for value-added down­stream prod­ucts such as fur­ni­ture, doors and floor­ing prod­ucts.

With MTC’s role in the mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion of the Malaysian tim­ber in­dus­try, from up­stream to down­stream, the re­gional of­fices are tasked to look at busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and new mar­kets.

“Re­gional of­fices should fol­low up with busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, re­search and de­vel­op­ment, look­ing at how to bring sales back to Malaysia, not just work­ing solely on mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion,” Wee said.

The top ten ex­port mar­kets for Malaysian tim­ber and tim­ber prod­ucts are Ja­pan, the US, In­dia, Sin­ga­pore, Aus­tralia, Korea, Tai­wan, China, the UK and Thai­land.

Wee said ex­porters ben­e­fit from the US dol­lar’s strength against the ring­git, gain­ing more with for­eign ex­change trans­la­tion.

On the Cabi­net’s de­ci­sion to lift the freeze on hir­ing of for­eign work­ers for four in­dus­tries that are fac­ing a ma­jor labour short­age, in­clud­ing the fur­ni­ture­mak­ing in­dus­try, Wee said MTC will need more time to see whether the sit­u­a­tion im­proves.

“We’re op­ti­mistic about ex­ports. We have or­ders but with­out the for­eign work­ers, this will im­pact us. In fur­ni­ture for ex­am­ple, you can­not rely only on au­to­ma­tion. When you want to add value, some­times the ma­chine can­not do cer­tain things, so we need man­power,” he ex­plained.

AMIRUL SYAFIQ MOHD DIN/ THE SUN

Wee with tim­ber prod­ucts at MTC Gallery.

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