SIBU: Sarawak recorded a 17 per cent growth in timber product exports for the first quarter of this year compared to the same period of 2011.
The Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation(STIDC) also said the state posted an overall sale of RM1.91 billion compared to RM1.63 billion previously.
In its latest quarterly newsletter, the STIDC said the growth was due to an increase in demand for logs, plywood and sawn timber.
It said the value of log exports went up by 14 per cent to RM502 million from RM439 million.
“Volume also increased by 22 per cent to 954,000 cubic metres from 784,000 cubic metres.
“India again emerged as the biggest buyer with a purchase of 655,000 cubic metres valued at RM343 million, followed by China with 88,000 cubic metres at RM45 million and Taiwan with 86,000 cubic meters at RM47 million,” it added.
For sawn timber, Sarawak’s export value increased by 27 per cent at RM199 million, against the RM157 million for the corresponding period of last year.
“Volume too went up by 24 per cent to 221,000 cubic metres from the 178,000 cubic metres then.
“Thailand is still the biggest market with a purchase of 83,000 cubic metres valued at RM76 million and followed by the Philippines at 46,000 cubic meters and worth RM17 million,” the STIDC said.
On plywood, the STIDC said the volume export for the period increased by 10 per cent to 644,000 cubic metres from 588,000 cubic metres, to push sales up to RM1 billion from RM848 million previously.
“Japan remained the top buyer, accounting for a purchase of 346,000 cubic metres valued at RM567 million, followed by the Middle East with 90,000 cubic metres worth RM122 million.
“The volume to Japan represents a 16 per cent increase while that to the Middle East, 56 per cent,” it added.
The STIDC said the export of products like dowels, mouldings, particle board, laminated veneer lumber, veneer, fibreboard, woodchips and others on the whole, contributed RM208 million or 11 per cent to the overall export value.
Meanwhile, on the industry’s future outlook, the STIDC said it had organised timber investment and trade missions to South Korea in January this year and to India in March.
“The missions received an encouraging response in both countries where about RM41 million in trade agreements were inked.
“The government is also constantly encouraging the industry to strengthen its position in the international market,” it added.
The STIDC too believes the state has the potential to be the country’s top contributor for furniture exports, as it is a major producer of tropical timber and timber products.
It said the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas had indicated his ministry would help Sarawak achieve this status by 2020.
“He said this vision was attainable if furniture manufacturers could produce value-added products for the international niche markets,” it added.
Sarawak, however, has to put up with stiff competition from countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Toward this end, the STIDC said the National Timber Industry Policy(NTIP) had underlined various strategies for the transformation of the wood-based industry, including the furniture industry.
“The NTIP aims to reduce the export of premier wood products such as logs, sawn timber and plywood by 40 per cent by 2020.
“At the same time, it seeks to increase, value-added downstream products such as furniture and building components to 60 per cent,” it added. — Bernama