PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA • Issue 3 • May / June 2018 55 T imber exports from Malaysia are forecasted to increase by five per cent this year, from RM23.22 billion in 2017, supported by high demand from Japan, U.S., Europe, Australia and India. According to Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) Director-General Datuk Dr Jalaluddin Harun, timber products from Malaysia are of high quality, which meets market specifications, as reported by The Sun Daily . "We are currently exporting our products to more than 160 countries, but after this we will focus on countries that we have free-trade agreements with, like New Zealand, Turkey and Pakistan," Datuk Dr Jalaluddin said at the opening of MRSZ Two Enterprise Sdn Bhd's showroom. In the first 11months of 2017, Malaysia posted a revenue of RM21.40 billion fromtimber exports, the bulk of it contributed by sales of wooden furniture. The country ranks among the world’s top 10 as a key producer of furniture. 80 per cent of exported furniture are made from rubberwood, besides other tropical timbers. “The timber industry is still vibrant and sustainable,” said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong at a media night hosted by theMalayisan Timber Council. Malaysia is one of the few countries that practises sustainable forestry management. The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) was established in January 1999 as an independent organisation to administer the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS). It is endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). As at February 2017, about 4.12 million ha of forests are PEFC-certified. As the country faces a shortage of rawmaterials and skilled workers, there may be difficulty meeting the export target of RM28 billion by 2020. Addressing this, there are plans to establish 375,000 ha of forest plantations by 2020. TheMinistry is also working on the National Oil Palm Trunk Development Plan to encourage the industry to consider this an alternative raw material. MTC has also allocated RM3 million as incentive for small medium enterprises (SMEs) to invest in woodworking machinery to boost productivity. ℗ Malaysian hardwoods. Image Credit: MTC Timber exports to increase by five per cent.