KUCHING: Export earnings of Sarawak’s timber sector in the first eight months (8M18) this year showed a decline of 14 percent compared to the same period last year.
Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said for January until August 2018, the timber sector has registered an export earnings of RM3.58 billion which was a decrease of 14 percent compared to RM4.17 billion in the corresponding period of 2017.
“The decline was mainly due to the reduction in the supply of raw materials and the inability of the current mills to process the type of raw materials that are currently available in the market as well as slower demand from major market,” he said in his ministerial winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly.
He also said the production of logs from natural forest has decreased by 18 percent from 3.8 million cubic meters in the first eight months of 2017 to 3.1 million cubic meters in the same period of 2018.
“The five major markets for Sarawak timber products were Japan, India, South Korea, the Middle East and Taiwan.
He pointed out the state government has undertaken various initiatives to ensure the sustainable development of the timber industry especially the growth of the value added products including the furniture manufacturing.
He added that the government will ensure that the forest is managed on sustainable basis and will facilitate the implementation of the forest management certification and compliance to the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) as this will help to increase credibility of Sarawak timber products in the export markets.
“The Forest and the Timber Industry Policies are being reviewed and adjusted in order to meet the current and future market requirements. The Government will review the Log Reservation Quota quantum and will gradually increase the quota for local log consumption in the local industry, should the need arise.
“In order to sustain the timber industry, the local manufacturers need to undertake the retooling process in line with the changes on the type of raw materials available in the future,” he added.
To supplement the supply of raw materials, he said the government will ensure successful implementation of the industrial forest in the State.
“The annual production of logs from industrial forest is expected to increase to at least two million cubic meters to meet the shortfall of logs from natural forest.
“In order to enhance the capability of the processing industry to produce competitive high value added products, the government, through Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), has implemented the Pool of Young Designers (POYOD) program, in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas)
“Since its establishment in 2018, in collaboration with the private sectors, POYOD has participated in Mumbai in May 2018 and Australia International Furniture Fair (AIFF) 2018 in Melbourne, Australia, July 2, which has successfully generated a total trade inquiry on furniture worth RM6 million.
This initiative is giving a positive impact in terms of opening a new market for furniture in India and Australia,” he said.
He also said that recently, STIDC has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Institute of Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Indonesia to upgrade and add value to the POYOD program.
He also said the findings of the Forestry and the Timber Industry Master Plan Study (2019 – 2040) upon its completion by the end of this year, will be able to further strengthen the government’s effort in providing a clear road map in the next 20 years towards developing a sustainable and high value added timber industry in the future.
On illegal logging, he said prevention and enforcement efforts are still ongoing and jointly involve the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC).
He disclosed 96 investigation papers have been received as of October 29. A total 17,783 logs measuring 14,920.94 cubic metres were seized, worth RM 0.97 million based on royalty rates of RM65 per cubic metre.
“Seven cases have been registered in the e-filing system for the purpose of court charges. Two cases are under the Forest Ordinance 2015 and five under Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.
“Six of those cases have been completed prosecution which saw 22 persons being sentenced. Only one case is still on trial,” he said.