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Malaysia's timber-based exports expected to improve on better demand

Malaysia's timber-based exports expected to improve on better demand

Malaysia's export of timber and timber-based products is expected to improve 2.8 per cent to RM14.7 billion this year from RM14.3 billion in 2001 due to better demand.

The sector recorded its highest ever export performance of RM17.7 billion in 2000. It shed 19 per cent to RM14.3 billion in 2001.

Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said the slight improvement does not necessarily mean that it can be sustained next year.

"It may dip again in 2003 because the US, Malaysia's biggest timber and timber products market, is still recovering.

"The future of Malaysia's timber sector remains bleak unless timber millers and exporters, plywood, joinery and furniture makers change their attitudes," Dr Lim told reporters in Selangor yesterday.

He had earlier launched a seminar on enhancing competitiveness of small-and medium-scale industries (SMIs) in the wood-based sector.

"Malaysia cannot blame poor market conditions as the main reason why exports cannot be maintained as China still managed to increase their furniture exports in 2001," Dr Lim said.

He said China exported US$4 billion (US$1 = RM3.80) worth of furniture last year, an increase of 8.7 per cent, while Malaysia could only maintain its furniture export at the RM5 billion level.

The forestry and timber sector accounted for 3.4 per cent of Malaysia's gross domestic product last year. It constituted 4.3 per cent of total export earnings and provided direct employment to 337,000 workers, or 3.6 per cent of the country's workforce.


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