KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's timber and timber-derived products exports are expected to be around RM20 billion to RM21 billion this year, almost equalling last year's exports totalling RM20.5 billion.
Deputy Minister of PLANTATION  Industries and Commodities Datuk Hamzah Zainudin said the projection was in tandem with the sluggish global economic
climate influencing demand and exports.
"The main recipient countries that receive our timber exports like the United States, Japan and several european nations are grappling with economic
crisis, thus demand from them are uncertain at the moment.
"Earlier, we projected our timber export value to increase by six to seven per cent this year, but if we can maintain last year's export worth, I think
it's good enough (given the current sluggish economic climate)," he told reporters after opening a national seminar on timber industry in the Industrial
Building System (IBS) here on Friday, Oct 28.
Hamzah said political uncertainties in several Middle East countries are also expected to influence timber exports value as several countries from that
region imported timber and timber-derived products from Malaysia.
He said although prices of other CONSTRUCTION  materials like cement and steel are uncertain in the market, that situation did not influence demand for
timber so much as timber imports depended on requirements and affordability of a country.
On domestic market, Hamzah said the local timber consumption was about RM7 billion a year, with the housing sector being the biggest contributor to the figure.
To encourage higher use of local timber and boost its export value, he said the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) has embarked on a replanting
programme to plant 25,000 timber trees of various species every year.
"Over the next five years, we expect to plant about 125,000 timber trees. This move will ensure that we can meet market demand," he added.
The seminar, jointly hosted by MTIB and Universiti Putra Malaysia, is to impart knowledge and provide exposure to industry players on opportunities to
explore in the IBS particularly using timber as a construction material. - Bernama