Sarawak’s timber exports drops 23 pct to RM2.3 bln, but engineered wood, biomass forge paths for growth

Awang Tengah presenting a slide on timber export development in Sarawak during his winding up speech at DUN Sitting on Nov 29, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 29: Sarawak’s total export value of timber products for the third quarter of this year registered a 23 per cent decline, reaching RM2.3 billion compared to RM3 billion during the same period in 2022.

Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan attributed this decrease to a reduction in the total export volume of the primary product, plywood.


“Japan continues to be the primary importer of timber products, particularly plywood, contributing RM1.2 billion or 52 per cent to Sarawak’s total export value.

“Other significant markets include India at RM381 million, Middle East countries at RM189 million, Taiwan at RM121 million, and China at RM104 million,” he said when delivering his winding up speech for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Urban Development during the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting today.

Acknowledging the focus on primary product exports, Awang Tengah urged industry players to commit to transforming their activities and operations towards producing high-value wood products by using more raw materials from forest and bamboo plantations.

Highlighting the ambition to increase high-value timber products, he disclosed that the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) is developing the Engineered Wood Product Blueprint to guide and direct the development of the engineered wood industry in Sarawak.

“The development of this industry is expected to be a game changer to achieve high added value products as well as optimise the use of raw material resources from forest plantations.

“STIDC is actively engaged in research and product development initiatives in collaboration with research and higher education institutions, as well as direct cooperation with the timber industry. The government envisions STIDC as a leader in promoting the production of high-value and sustainable products, thereby positively impacting export value,” he said.

Awang Tengah affirmed the Sarawak government’s commitment to empowering downstream industries, including biomass, furniture, bamboo-based, and engineered wood industries.

Emphasising the potential of the biomass industry in the green economy, he mentioned that products like wood pellets, biochar, and charcoal briquettes are in high demand globally for their environmental friendliness compared to fossil fuel.

“As of the third quarter of this year, Sarawak has exported wood pellet products to Japan, France and Korea worth RM36 million,” he disclosed.

This wood pellet product can be produced from various sources of raw materials such as wood waste, oil palm trunk (OPT), empty fruit bunch (EFB) and bamboo.

In urging timber industry players to embrace Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) technology, Awang Tengah highlighted the importance of automation and digital technology for competitiveness in both local and global markets.

“Therefore, the industry needs to change and be ready to implement retooling in their operations,” he said. — DayakDaily