Despite worries surrounding the US-China trade war and Brexit, the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) is confident that Malaysia can export RM25 billion of timber and timber-based products by next year.
MTC chief executive officer Richard Yu denied the timber industry a sunset industry.
At present, he said Malaysia’s timber and timber-based products were exported to over 160 countries.
Exports of major timber products stood at RM22.29 billion in 2018 compared with RM23.13 billion recorded in 2017.
Wooden furniture continued to be the major contributor last year with RM7.79 billion worth of exports, followed by plywood (RM4.58 billion), sawn timber (RM3.66 billion) and fibreboard (RM1.19 billion).
Yu said MTC will open new regional offices in Houston, Texas, and Rotterdam to seek new buyers in the Americas and the European region as well as source for raw materials.
He said the Rotterdam office was targeted to open this month and the Houston office would be operational in the second half of this year.
“The United States is the second largest importer of timber and wood from Malaysia. Countries such as Canada and those in South America, like Chile and Brazil, are the sources of raw materials.
“So, it makes sense for us to have an office there to look for potential customers and raw materials, whether pine or oak,” he said.
Yu said the European office would also cover the Middle East and African countries.
“We are looking at niche markets that are in the development stages,” he said, adding that current offices also had been realigned to widen MTC’s reach.
Yu said its office in Bengaluru, India, had been rebranded as the South Asia office to cater to regional areas such as Pakistan, while China’s office in Guangzhou was expanded to cater to East Asian countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.