KUCHING: The state’s timber industry export earnings plunged to RM5.94 billion last year from RM7.2 billion in 2015.
Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this was due to the global economic volatility.
He said almost 99 per cent of Sarawak’s timber product exports were focused on traditional markets such as China, Japan, Korea and India.
“The impact of slower economic growth in the market is expected to continue to affect and impede the export growth of Sarawak’s timber products industry this year.
“In view of this, the state’s timber industry should take into account the development scenario and demand trends of wood-based products in the global market today and in the future,” he said at the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) assembly in Wisma Sumber Alam yesterday.
Awang Tengah, who is also STIDC chairman, said the dependence on traditional and primary product export markets did not benefit the state’s export earnings in the long run.
“As such, STIDC needs to transform the local timber industry from exporting premium goods to exporting higher value-added products by creating more high-earning industries.”
Assistant Minister for Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister for Industrial Development (Investment and Promotion) Datuk Julaihi Narawi, STIDC management board member Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain, Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment permanent secretary Datu Sudarsono Osman and STIDC general manager Datu Sarudu Hoklai were also present.
Meanwhile, STIDC in a statement said the five main Sarawak wood product export markets which contributed to RM4.854 billion or 82 per cent of the total export value last year were Japan (RM2.281 billion, 38 per cent); India (RM967 million, 16 per cent); Middle East (RM574 million, 10 per cent); Taiwan (RM516 million, 9 per cent); and Korea (RM514 million, nine per cent).
The export value to Japan decreased by 38 per cent from RM2.55 billion in 2015 to RM2.281 billion last year whereas the export value for India also reduced from RM1.252 billion in 2015 to RM967 million in 2016.
The statement also noted that five main wood products for export were timber, plywood, lumber, veneer and fibreboard with total export value of RM5.627 billion last year comprising timber with RM1.401 billion or 23 per cent, plywood (RM2.936 billion, 49 per cent), lumber (RM786 million, 13 per cent), fibreboard (RM298 million, five per cent) and veneer (RM205 million, three per cent).
Three of these wood products suffered a loss in export value in 2016 namely timber which dropped 21 per cent from RM1.775 billion in 2015 to RM1.401 billion, plywood which fell 10 per cent from RM3.265 billion (2015) to RM2.936 billion and veneer which dropped 14 per cent from RM239 million (2015) to RM205 million.
On the other hand, the export value for lumber and fibreboard recorded an increase in export value last year compared to 2015.
The lumber export value increased seven per cent from RM733 million in 2015 to RM786 million last year while the export value for fibreboard increased by 15 per cent from RM259 million (2015) to RM298 million in 2016.