Saturday, October 19

Timber shortage critical – STIA

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) said the timber industry here is facing a shortage of raw material due to over logging in the past and lack of sustainable forest management program.

In a statement yesterday in conjunction with this year’s Chinese New Year celebration, STIA president Datuk James Hwong said the critical situation has forced STIA members to depend on other means to sustain the industry.

He said in 2011 the log production was estimated at 2.5 million cubic meters while the total installed processing capacity was around seven million cubic meter.

“STIA is appealing for the State Government to assist the industry by taking steps in easing importation of raw material from other countries in the form of a symbolic exemption of raw material importation fee and enhancing the timber planting program of fast growing species by providing land to operators on manageable scale; upgrade basic infrastructure and support services to industrial zone and continue improvement of port facility to cut down high cost of doing business in Sabah.

“The association also likes to highlight the hope of the industry for the Government to provide the necessary support and back-up plan for the industry to move forward during this difficult period of waiting for the Sustainable Forest Management project to bear the desired result,” he said.

According to Hwong, panel products such as plywood and veneer were still the highest products exported in terms of volume and value last year.

However, export of sawn timber decreased in volume and value by 18.6% and 19.7% respectively compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

The major markets for Sabah’s sawn timber comprised Thailand, Taiwan, China, South Africa, Japan, Peninsular Malaysia and Netherlands, he said.

Hwong said however that plywood exports decreased by 14.7% in terms of volume and 5.4% in terms of value compared to corresponding period of 2010.

Japan stood as the biggest market destination for Sabah’s plywood followed by Peninsular Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Egypt, Mexico and USA.

The export of veneer dropped by 49.4% in terms of volume and 42.8% in terms of value, with Taiwan as the biggest buyer followed by Korea, Sarawak, Japan and Peninsular Malaysia.

Export of moulded wood dropped by 25.8% in terms of volume, and 18.9% in terms of value, with Japan topping the list of buyers followed by Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Maldives and Italy.

Export of laminated board products showed a decrease of 13.9% in terms of volume and 5.1% in terms of value compared to corresponding period of 2010, he said, adding that Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia were the top buyers of Sabah’s laminated board.