Expo aims to enhance Sarawak timber, SMEs repute

(from left) Awang Tengah and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg admiring a furniture on display at the expo.

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By Emellia Tamoh

KUCHING, June 28: The 4th Sarawak Timber & Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) 2019 Expo that started yesterday showcased diversified unique timber, non-timber items along with SMEs’ products produced by local manufacturers and SMEs.

The expo, themed `Leveraging Digital Technology in Transforming the Timber & SMEs Industry’, aspires to strengthen both Sarawak timber & SMEs as well as the international link to promote Sarawak products.

“SMEs represents 98.5 per cent of the total business establishments in Sarawak,” said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan. Hence, the full potential of SMEs must be harnessed in order for Sarawak to achieve a high-income economy.

“We need to embrace the digital economy.” he reiterated.

Awang Tengah emphasised that to ensure the sustainability of SMEs in the long run, it is important for SMEs to go for regional and global markets, explore a bigger customer base via e-commerce and digital platforms and adopt modern technologies, creativity and innovation.

Meanwhile, the first Sarawak Design Conference & Expo 2019, themed `Bring Design to Our Home’, is also held simultaneously with the expo.

It is a joint event organised by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Bandung, Indonesia.

The event sought to create awareness on the importance of design in the timber and SMEs industry.

The exhibitors and speakers are from places like Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

Furthermore, Sarawak will be launching its own furniture brand that is produced by manufacturers under the Pool of Young Designers (POYOD) training programme.

“This is a positive development for the furniture industry in the state, so as to position itself in the global market,” said Awang Tengah.

He hoped more companies would take the initiative to create their own product branding and participate in the POYOD training program.

The local furniture brands are Reta by Samling, Starhome by Shin Yang and GWI by Giovanni Wood Industries Sdn Bhd.

The launching of Sarawak’s furniture brand is consistent with the state’s Timber Industry Transformation Plan (2015-2030) that seeks to rely on high value-added products instead of the exportation of primary and secondary timber products.

There has been an 18 per cent increase in Sarawak’s wooden furniture export in the first five months of this year (RM20 million) when compared to the corresponding period in 2018 (RM17 million).

According to Awang Tengah, the state’s vision is to achieve its targeted export earnings of RM10 billion by 2030. — DayakDaily