Wooden furniture exports to hit RM24b in 2022

by ANIS HAZIM / pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities has targeted a two-fold increase to RM24 billion in the export of wooden furniture next year. 

Its minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (picture) said this can be achieved by exploring new markets such as Central Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, with support from the ministry. 

“We can go double for next year if we can achieve sufficient labour, better management and even financial resources,” Zuraida told a press conference after the launch of Timb3r Design Incubator Programme 2.0 and Hackaton Reimagine, Redesign and Remix yesterday. 

She said that there’s a huge potential in ramping up the export volume next year as countries like the UK and the US are among Malaysia’s largest export markets for wooden furniture products. 

“If the UK and the US prefer to import furniture products from Malaysia, it means the quality of our workmanship is very high, which leads those countries to choose our products,” she said. 

The ministry is eyeing new export markets for next year including China, India, Australia, the Middle East and Central Asian countries. 

She said the local furniture industry will have to reduce its dependency on foreign workers by 50% and hire more local workers. “I’ve visited several furniture factories and found most of the work is automated. Only some parts, such as the packing, are still done manually.

“Therefore, we are looking for local workers especially young people who are qualified, and with better salaries we can save on foreign labour costs and pay our local workers better,” stated Zuraida. 

She noted the lack of Bumiputera’s involvement in the furniture industry and hopes to see changes after the Malaysian Bumiputera Wood and Furniture Entrepreneur elected a new committee in its recent annual general meeting. 

“I see that this has given a new life to the industry as the new committees include young people as well as more women participation. So, I really hope they will be more competitive to get involved in the timber-based industry,” she added. 

Zuraida foresees that the growth for multifunctional furniture products may exceed 7.5% over the next few years, making it one of the liveliest parts of the furnishing industry which may even see higher growth.