Malaysian Timber Council Eyes Middle East, Africa and South Asia Markets As Economies Re-open
While the Middle East, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is viewed as a major market as the local governments are spending billions of dollars in the infrastructure projects, Africa is the untapped market for them.
South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Maldives are huge markets in terms of population. These countries cannot be ignored as timber products are in great demand and people’s purchasing power has gone up.
African continent’s consumer market is rising and China’s exports have gone up from $5 billion to $110 billion in the last two decades. Furthermore, China has been the largest foreign investor in Africa and provided 25% of funds for the continent’s infrastructure projects in 2018.
Malaysian timber is also used in North African countries such as Egypt and Algeria, where the demand is for sawn timber, panel products, FJLB, engineered flooring, decking, home and outdoor furniture, as well as furniture components.
The UAE’s GDP growth is estimated to be 1.2% in 2021 and 2.5% in 2022 to 2023 as the government as embarked on several projects both in private and public sectors and Saudi Arabia is equally committed to complete similar projects.
With oil prices hovering over $75 per barrel, the Kingdom’s GDP growth rate is projected to be around 2.4% in 2021. Saudi government has already launched several new programmes in education and tourism to become a non-hydrocarbon economy in the next couple of decades.
According to the World Bank Gulf Economic Update, the GCC member states’ economies are expected to return to an aggregate growth of 2.2% in 2021. Timber products such as panel products, sawn timber, home furniture and furniture components are in great demand in the region.
Trade opportunities of $2.4 billion
MTC CEO Mukhtar Suhail said the council was looking to benefit from trade opportunities worth approximately $2.4 billion for its timber exports during the launch of the Week of Sustainable Agricultural Commodities (Non-Food Agricultural Commodities) at the Malaysian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The main export destinations for Malaysian timber in the region include Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Kuwait and the UAE, having exported to them wood products worth $220.1 million in 2020.
Mukhtar Sohaili said: “We see Expo 2020 Dubai as an important platform that helps us introduce and showcase Malaysian timber products and services to our potential local and international trading partners, providing the event with more Growth opportunities for this industry in our country.”
He further said: “The aim of organizing this event at Expo 2020 Dubai was to showcase Malaysia’s initiatives, highlight best practices and sustainable innovations in managing its forest resources, as well as research potential business opportunities.”
According to him, Malaysia has always recognised the importance of managing its forest resources responsibly, balancing socio-economic progress with sustainability, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
Malaysia has also firmly kept its commitment, made during the 1992 Rio Summit, where nations were admonished to have at least 50% of their total land area under forest cover.
Currently, 55.3% of the Malaysia’s land area remains under forest cover. The Malaysian Pavilion itself is inspired by the country’s thriving rainforest ecosystem, incorporating elements of interconnected canopies and a meandering river.
One of Malaysia’s prized hardwoods, Meranti, was sustainably sourced from a Malaysian forest and used for the construction of the pavilion.