Malaysian Timber Council to drive growth in timber industry

Photo: Vismen Subramaniam/Unsplash

Despite the difficult year, Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) is executing plans to achieve the goals they had set out in MTC Roadmap 2019-2023, aiming to boost the timber market.

Muhtar Suhaili, CEO of MTC, shared: “Our roadmap took a very careful and calculated approach of what the industry would be going through on the whole.”

MTC has laid out seven objectives to hit in 2021, which aims to address succession, market access, raw materials, design and branding, automation, sustainability and green initiatives and stakeholder relationships.

Among the plans it has successfully initiated include the TIMB3R Design Incubator Programme in 2020, a programme in collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers. In the initiative, local designers and architects are connected with manufacturers to develop high-value timber and furniture products with aesthetic designs, ready for export to the international market. The initiative birthed 18 products, jointly produced by 18 designers and manufacturers, nine of which will be showcased at the Furniture China Digital Trade Show 2021.

Additionally, MTC launched TimbeReality in February 2021, a dedicated virtual reality platform for Malaysian-made timber and furniture products to potential buyers, with a total of 41 companies applying to participate in the programme as of June.

For succession planning, MTC designed the Young Entrepreneur Society, which aims to prepare both founder and successor in family businesses for leadership transitions to the next generation. As of 31 Jul 2021, 26 industry members have participated in YES.

In March 2021, MTC rolled out the Engineer Placement and Internship Programme (EPIP), where engineers are trained for industry assimilation in factories to boost production capacities and enhance automation.

“EPIP has been well received by companies in the timber industry,” Muhtar said, noting that 38 companies registered, 135 graduates from 10 universities have applied where 63 candidates were shortlisted.

Not only that, MTC also rolled out Smart Manufacturing Consulting, which assists companies in implementing automation and digitalisation based on their priorities, processes and workforce, and provides assistance and mentoring for their transformation journey. MTC also developed Digital Marketing Entrepreneurship Programme to train and coach Malaysian timber-based companies in digital platforms, and organised eight webinars on online advertising that has garnered more than 580 participants.

As of June 2021, exports of timber and timber products stood at RM11.6 billion, which was an increase of 21% over the same corresponding period in 2020.

MTC is confident that by the end of 2021, with the national vaccination initiative aiming to fully vaccinate 80% of the adult population and obtain herd immunity, the timber industry will have a relatively strong start to 2022: “Our industry is resilient and will rebound strongly in 2022… Timber-based products are fetching good prices with the United States in its 11-month timber boom, while Australian timber prices have risen nearly 200% due to lack of supply and high demand.”

“If Malaysia is able to achieve herd immunity early and factories can ramp up production, we can capitalise on this strong demand,” said Muhtar.

On sustainability, Muhtar noted: “MTC sees its position within the trade and its proximity with the government as a strength and opportunity to further enhance the competitiveness of the Malaysian timber industry in the sustainability aspect, by improving corporate governance and being receptive to the sustainable development agenda.”

MTC is continuously undertaking various engagement programmes with stakeholders and publicity campaigns to create awareness on sustainable forest management practices among industry players, alongside working together with the Malaysian Timber Certification Council to encourage industry players to obtain the chain of custody certification under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme. They are also encouraging the timber sector to embrace green technology by expanding its assistance programme via a green incentive for the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems.

Source: The Star