SIBU (April 3): Federal Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities has set a target for the export market value of timber and timber products to reach RM32.8 billion by 2030, with 70 per cent of exports expected to comprise downstream products.
Deputy Minister II Datuk Willie Mongin said the timber industry stood as the third highest contributor to the country’s agro-commodity sector, with export value of timber and timber products amounting to RM22.74 billion last year.
“Sarawak has contributed RM3.53 billion, or about 15 per cent, of the export value and the main exports (from the state) are plywood, timber and fibreboard,” he said during a press conference held in connection with his working visit to the Samarakan Bintulu Forest Plantation on Friday.
The two-day programme, organised by Sarawak Forest Department, was aimed at facilitating the government’s modernisation of the country’s timber industry towards increasing its resilience and sustainability.
Willie said although Sarawak had large forest plantation areas, their contribution stood at only 15 per cent from the total export value.
“Hopefully, Sarawak could play an important role in generating the state’s timber resources by increasing its percentage in future.”
Willie also said the income from timber royalties used to be RM600 million, but it had decreased to RM300 million now.
“This is because a lot of our timber cannot be processed for one reason or another, whereas in the past, most of our timber came from the native forest.”
According to him, Sarawak also has quality timber products but when it comes to harvesting, there are lots of problems due to the different timber species that require different harvesting techniques.
“Hopefully, we could obtain the guidance, expertise and technical approaches from foreign countries, especially Australia, so that we could make our timber industry sustainable; hence, increasing the timber production output in the upstream level.”
Adding on, Willie said the government was undertaking solid initiatives and actions towards promoting overall sustainability along the timber value-chain.
He listed the provision of a loan amounting to RM500 million through the Forest Plantation Development Programme (PPLH 2.0) under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) as such initiative.
“This is meant to ensure a continuous supply of raw materials for the timber industry in the future,” he added.
In this regard, the federal deputy minister called upon eligible industry players and companies to capitalise on this loan and contact the ministry through Forest Plantation Sdn Bhd for assistance in getting their applications processed.
“The ministry believes that continued cooperation with stakeholders in Sarawak will be able to increase the competitiveness of the country’s timber industry to meet the needs and demands of the international market.”
Willie’s visit was also attended by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Counsellor (Agriculture) Sanjay Boothalingam, as well as representatives of Malaysia Timber Industry Board, Malaysia Timber Council and Malaysia Timber Certification Council.