MUAR (Oct 11): Malaysia’s wooden furniture exports are projected to rise to more than RM13 billion in value this year from the RM12.8 billion recorded in 2020, according to the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC).
Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said the target is achievable since the country’s furniture industry chalked up commendable sales in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Even during the pandemic, when we were facing low supply due to logistical problems such as transportation, the movement control order and so on, the furniture industry remained stable in terms of export value, so I reckon that it can exceed RM13 billion this year.
“The end of the year — October to December — is the time for them to catch up by seizing the opportunity to export the available goods as fast as possible. I am confident that their efforts would bear fruits,” she told a media conference after launching the satellite office of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) and Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) here on Monday.
Zuraida said for the first eight months of 2021, the country’s furniture export value hit RM6.6 billion, up 5.2% from RM6.2 billion in last year’s corresponding period.
“The export potential is very high as the US is the main export market, which accounts for nearly 50%. Although we have competition from Vietnam, the Americans still regard Malaysia as the supplier of high-quality and stylish furniture that suits their taste,” she added.
On furniture companies’ concern regarding foreign workers, Zuraida said the MPIC is working together with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to resolve the matter.
“The hiring of foreign workers comes under the enterprise category and not under the MPIC, so we will ask for some leeway or waiver for the ministry to manage the recruitment of workers in the area of commodities, especially in the timber or furniture industry," she explained.
On the MTIB and MTC satellite office, Zuraida said its function is to coordinate furniture-related issues for about 700 furniture businesses in the Muar district — the Furniture City of Malaysia — as well as promoting the use of automation and innovation in the timber industry.
Johor contributed 69% of Malaysia’s wooden furniture export value last year, and Muar alone accounted for 46%.