Zuraida Said That High-potential Markets Are Being Identified to Boost Furniture Exports

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Malaysia is identifying numerous new high-growth markets for the furniture sector, including North America, Canada, and the Middle East, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said.

“These are the nations into which we would explore — countries that require tropical forest timber,” she said to a query from Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin (Barisan Nasional-Rompin) about the ministry’s attempts to grow the furniture industry and increase Malaysia’s export value.

She stated that the value of furniture exports was RM9.14 billion in 2019, RM10.63 billion in 2020, and RM9.14 billion from January to June 2021.

Zuraida added that the ministry is also cultivating young designers’ talent in the field of furniture design in order to improve the designs of Malaysian furniture for the worldwide market by transitioning from original equipment production to own design and own brand manufacturing.

“To ensure that Malaysian timber products are accepted not only in the European Union (EU) market, but also in international markets, the ministry is also working to strengthen the Peninsular Malaysia Timber Legality Assurance System (MYTLAS) certification.

“The ministry is also organising programmes to assist furniture sector players in breaking into overseas markets, such as ministerial missions to Dubai in connection with World Expo Dubai and market tours to ASEAN and Oceania by the Malaysian Timber Council,” she added.

She stated that the ministry’s goal is to reach RM12.5 billion in furniture exports by year’s end, a 20% increase over 2020.

In response to a supplementary question from Datuk Dr Hasan Bahrom (Pakatan Harapan-Tampin) about the government’s plan to increase bumiputera participation in the timber industry, she stated that the ministry is looking to improve existing business modules to assist bumiputera entrepreneurs in becoming successful and competitive.

“We have a dedicated budget for bumiputera development, and it will be used optimally — more cost-effective and productive — to get the desired result,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Zuraida stated that a new policy would be developed to ensure the continuation of the Easy Financing Scheme for Oil Palm Smallholders’ Replanting (TSPKS) in an orderly and structured manner by providing grants to those in the bottom 40% income group (B40) who have land for oil palm cultivation that does not exceed 10 acres (4.04 hectares).

“We will develop a system for assisting through grants rather than loans, as was previously done.

“At the moment, we have 238,108 private smallholders spanning 895,297 hectares across the country. “Smallholders account for 40% of growers in the oil palm industry,” she explained.

She was responding to a question from Datuk Wilson Ugak Anak Kumbong (GPS-Hulu Rajang) regarding the ministry’s intention to reintroduce the TSPKS plan to smallholders “for free.”

Published by Zack Baharum

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