S’wak’s total exports of timber, timber products drop in 2023 to RM3.1 bln

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Zainal (right) and Sheikh Othman sign the MoU witnessed by Len Talif (back fourth right).

KUCHING (Jan 23): Sarawak’s total export value of timber and timber products dropped to RM3.1 billion in 2023 from RM3.9 billion in 2022, said Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

The Second Minister for Natural Resources and Urban Development said the export value of logs stood at RM559 million, constituting 18 per cent of the overall export value, while timber product exports reached about RM2.6 billion.

“Despite the drop in the industry’s overall export value, Japan remained the primary market for Sarawak.

“Japan’s market has contributed 53 per cent or RM1.7 billion to Sarawak’s export earnings in 2023,” he said in a speech for the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation’s (STIDC) memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing with the Malaysian Panel-Products Manufacturers’ Association (MPMA) last night

The speech was read by Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Urban Development Datuk Len Talif Salleh.

Awang Tengah said plywood remained Sarawak’s main export product at RM1.5 billion, making up 48 per cent of total export earnings.

He said transformation within the industry in Sarawak is vital and urged companies to shift towards the production of high value-added products by utilising raw materials from planted forests.

“To achieve this transformation, the state government is committed to strengthening the downstream industry, expanding into biomass, furniture, bamboo, and engineered wood.

“Biomass products, such as wood pellets, biochar, and charcoal briquettes, have enormous potential in establishing a green economy in Sarawak. Notably, the state has already exported wood pellets to Japan, France, and Korea, amounting to an export value of RM36 million,” he said.

Awang Tengah also said that STIDC has taken proactive steps by preparing a proposal for the Engineered Wood Product Blueprint.

He said the blueprint, which is to be presented in the upcoming STIDC board meeting, outlines the guidelines and future direction for the engineered wood industry in Sarawak.

“In a bid to further diversify the industry, STIDC is also focusing on developing the bamboo sector. Despite the global export value of bamboo products reaching US$66.2 billion in 2022, Sarawak’s market value was recorded at RM1.2 million,” he said.

Emphasising the untapped potential in biomass, engineered wood, and bamboo industries, he said there is a collective effort to position these sectors as game-changers for the timber industry in Sarawak.

He expressed confidence that 2024 will bring greater prosperity and growth for Sarawak, despite economic challenges.

“Sarawak’s resilience, innovation, and collective commitment to progress have been evident with revenue, surpassing the previous record, at RM13.3 billion in 2023. It also important that we face all challenges as a team to achieve Sarawak’s 2030 targets,” he said.

The STIDC-MPMA MoU will promote collaboration and knowledge exchange for sustainable planted forest management practices within the Licence for Planted Forests (LPF/0043) project.

Signed by STIDC general manager Zainal Abidin Abdullah and MPMA chairman Datuk Wira Sheikh Othman Rahman, the MoU aims to strengthen collaboration in the field of sustainable industrial tree planting (ITP) activities, timber management operations, and practices.

“Both STIDC and MPMA acknowledge the growing need for sustainable forest management practices as well as the importance of research and development (R&D) in the timber industry.

“The MoU will pave the way for the two organisations to work together and share their expertise and knowledge in these areas, ultimately leading to the growth and development of the Malaysian timber industry,” said a statement from the organisers.