January / February 2018 • Issue 1 • PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA 52 SHOW REVIEW 2nd Global Timber Conference underlines new strategies for sustainable growth • Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister makes major announcement • Wide range of topics covered under the theme, “Innovation and Market Driven Strategies: Keys to Sustainable Growth” he second Global Timber Conference, held in Kuching fromNov 6 to 8, beganwith a study tour followed by a conference programme that covered six topics. Guest speakers from the government, private sectors and consultants presented a wide range of topics: “Global Timber Outlook: Demand, Supply and Prospects,” “Genomics and Good Silvicultural Practices,” “Standards, Certifications and Eco-Labelling,” “Alternative Raw Materials,” “Urban Transformation” and “The next wave in Wooden Furniture: Design, Material and Technology.” In his opening speech, YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Bin Ali Hasan, deputy chief minister of Sarawak, announced that all timber concessions in Sarawak must be certified by 2022. “We are set to reduce our reliance on natural forests for rawmaterials to feed our timber mills. Towards this end, we are investing in R&D for a viable and robust industrial forest estate in the state,” Datuk Amar said. The conference, he added, is timely for industry members to learn how to enhance performance and competitiveness. Later, Richard Laity, Projects & Development officer at PEFC International, gave an update on PEFC’s growth in Southeast Asiawhere several countries are nowdeveloping national forest certification schemes for endorsement by PEFC. THE FUTURE OF FURNITURE IN SEA With regard to furniture industries, Michael Buckley, a wood industry consultant from Singapore, reviewed the current status and prospects for Asian furniture manufacturers. He concluded the industry, as always, is facing challenges, of which rawmaterial supply and increasing government legislationmay be the two most important. But keeping up with trends is also vital. In the future this is likely to focus on better furniture in the middle market, for example, the increasing need for smaller space furniture. Ask some American and European companies why they went out of business, he suggested; while many will cite cheaper labour in developing countries, falling behind on manufacturing innovation and design may be nearer the truth. Finally online shopping may become a big disrupter for the industry. Roberta Mutti, from Italian Consulting Pte Ltd, discussed the success of the Italian furniture industry and focused on the importance of design and the future growth of middle class consumption in Asia. The OECD predicts that in 2030, 59 per cent of the world’s spending by the middle class will happen in Asia – up from the current 23 per cent. Ngo SyHoai, vice secretary general of VIFORES fromVietnam presented two papers on species selection and on strategy for the furniture industry in Vietnam. He discussed the challenges of reliance on wood imports, low value-added products and industry fragmentation. However he also noted that Vietnam had made strides in forest rehabilitation, land tenure reforms and market development. With wood consumption running at 31 million cubicmetres annuallywith only 23million cubicmetres available locally, andwith over 100 countries supplyingwood, traceability is now an issue. On design and construction with wood there was plenty to inspire delegates as technological advances and use of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) offer exciting prospects in building, especially in high-rise. ℗ YB Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Bin Ali Hasan, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, announced that all forests must be certified by 2022. Traditional Sarawak dance opens the conference in Kuching Michael Buckley, wood industry consultant from Singapore, reviewed status and prospects for Asian furniture manufacturers.