Sarawak’s timber earnings slip 21 per cent in first quarter

Awang Tengah (right) speaking to reporters after attending STIDC’s Gawai Raya gathering.

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KUCHING, July 6: Sarawak’s export earnings from timber and timber products slumped 21 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, when compared to the corresponding period last year.

From January-March this year, the total earnings recorded were RM1.32 billion, while it was RM1.66 billion during the same period in 2017.

“The export value of timber and timber products to major markets declined because timber companies are currently only allowed to export up to 20 per cent of their log productions under a revised state policy,” explained Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan after attending Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation’s (STIDC) Gawai Raya gathering here today.

The value of exported logs fell by 49 per cent to RM186 million from RM368 million, while veneer dropped by 36 per cent to RM33 million from RM51 million during the period under study.

Awang Tengah, who is also Second Urban Development and Natural Resources Minister, said that the timber industry played a very significant role in the state’s economy.

“Since timber revenue is declining, it means there is a need for the state to focus more on high valued-added downstream industries for its timber and timber products.

“Emphasis must be given to R&D initiatives to grow our downstream industries and produce high value-added products for the export market,” he said.

Awang Tengah said Japan remained the largest buyer of timber and timber products from Sarawak, accounting for 47 per cent or RM620 million, in the first quarter of this year’s export earnings.

This is followed by India at 11 per cent (RM146 million) and South Korea at 9 per cent (RM117 million). — DayakDaily