S’wak exports timber products worth RM2 bil in first half of 2022, RM310 mil in August alone

Wong (sixth left) delivers his opening remarks while Lau (on his right), STA treasurer Philip Choo Kwong Hui (on his left) and others look on.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Sept 30: Sarawak has exported timber products worth RM2 billion in the first half of this year, which is a marked increase of 11.7 per cent compared to RM1.8 billion in the same period last year.

For August this year, Sarawak has exported logs and timber products worth RM310,943,151.

Sarawak Timber Association (STA) chairman Datuk Wong Kie Yik said the growth of the State’s timber industry has continued since the reopening of economies around the world.

This is proven in the growth of 3.9 per cent in total export value from the previous year, from RM3.7 billion in 2020 to RM3.9 billion in 2021.

“STA is optimistic that the momentum and positive trend can be sustained with more supporting policies by the government, as many companies from Peninsular Malaysia are looking at Sarawak for raw materials in the form of logs, sawn timber, plywood, etc.

“Since the start of this year, STA has had several engagements with organisations from Peninsular Malaysia, such as the Malaysian Timber Council, Malaysian Furniture Council, Malaysian Wood Moulding And Joinery Council and Muar Furniture Association, to name a few.

“One critical policy is to facilitate enough manpower from Indonesia or any other source countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar for the industry to carry this momentum forward,” he said in his opening remarks during the STA Annual General Meeting held at Wisma STA here today.

He also mentioned that to develop the timber industry further, it is necessary to have the establishment and support of auxiliary industries such as wood adhesives/chemicals/lacquers, upholstery/textiles and logistics, as well as to upgrade infrastructure such as roads and build more deep-sea ports.

To date, STA members have made significant progress in forest management certification (FMC) with 13 Forest Management Units (FMUs) and six Forest Plantation Management Units (FPMUs) located in approximately 1.37 million hectares of forest area in Sarawak.

Given this, Wong also urged the government to consider expediting the issuance of the promised 60-year licence to certified FMUs to allow them to carry out long-term planning for optimal management of the forests to meet the needs of the present and future generations.

Meanwhile, STA secretary Henry Lau Lee Kong, in the Association’s workings report, mentioned that the Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) had agreed to consider implementing a pilot project on the employment of 1,000 Bangladeshi workers to solve the issue of workers’ shortage in Sarawak’s timber industry.

This will pave the way for recruiting workers from other source countries, as Sarawak’s policy permits the industry to recruit workers from Indonesia only. — DayakDaily