Top timber body eyeing long-term partnerships with Middle East Investors

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Datuk Wong Kie YikThe Sarawak Timber Association has established itself as the leading governing body for the industry in the state. Its Chairman, Datuk Wong Kie Yik, is keen to see investment from Middle Eastern interests.

The head of Sarawak’s leading timber organisation has invited potential investors from the Middle East to join them in long-lasting partnerships that are profitable and beneficial to the growth of the state’s timber industry and its value-added activities. Pemanca Datuk Wong Kie Yik, Chairman of the Sarawak Timber Association (STA), said the timber sector is looking beyond dealing with mere trading partners, who may only be interested in one-off deals.

“We want to emphasise on partnerships instead of just the trading aspect,” said Datuk Wong. “Rather than have people come and go, we want real partnerships so that we can understand each other and help the industry grow.”

Sarawak exported RM6.74 billion worth of timber products in 2010, one of the top exporters in the world. Industry players in Malaysia hope that by 2020, exports can reach RM53 billion. For this target to become a reality, Sarawak must rely on traditional markets such as Japan and India as well as increased penetration into other countries including the Middle East while also luring customers from the United States and Europe. STA is the leading and biggest governing body for timber in Sarawak with about 500 members. Its role is to strengthen links between members, protect their interests, safeguard the timber industry in Sarawak and conduct business that is beneficial to goals and aspirations of its members.Datuk Wong said investment opportunities for potential Middle East investors are plentiful, especially in value-added downstream activities of the timber industry. This basically translates into the various products that are made from timber, with a focus on furniture and its related products. The fresh attention given to value added activities is in line with the business trends of STA members, who are gradually moving into higher-end products and services in order to boost the value of exports.

“Currently, Middle East customers buy our hardwood and logs,” said Datuk Wong.

“We would like to see joint ventures into value-added products such as furniture or furniture parts.

“If we get involved in partnerships with Middle East interests, the relationship would be much stronger than if they were just trading partners.

Although Sarawak is one of the leading exporters of timber and its derivative products, the Malaysian state is facing stiff competition from emerging exporters such as Vietnam and China.While Datuk Wong acknowledged the competition, he said Sarawak’s timber is of high quality which is hard to match by other countries.

“When you talk about Vietnam or China, the advantage they have is their population and manpower,” he said.

“But if you are looking at the sheer quality of tropical timber, then you really cannot beat Sarawak for its unique raw materials.

“Yes, we struggle with manpower but investors should value the quality of timber that we produce and not look at us as a source of cheap materials.

“If they fully recognise the value of the timber available here, then the opportunities will be there for these investors.”

STA, which aims to be the “only timber association” in Sarawak, was formed in 1971 by its three founding member organisations – The Fourth Division Timber Merchants Associations, The Sarawak First & Second Divisions Sawmillers Association and the Third Division & Bintulu District Sawmiller Association.

A key milestone in the orga- nisation’s history came on September 20, 1988 when STA restructured its membership, disbanded the three founding associations and formed a single STA institution.

Its members employ about 100,000 workers in the state and federal government authorities to ensure the timber industry is healthy, thriving and profitable.

With the association’s experience in Sarawak’s leading industry, the future of timber in the state is as solid as the wood it produces.

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The Sarawak Timber Association has established itself as the leading governing body for the industry in the state. Its Chairman, Datuk Wong Kie Yik, is keen to see investment from Middle Eastern interests. The head of Sarawak’s leading timber organisation has invited potential investors from the Middle East to join them in long-lasting partnerships that are profitable and beneficial to the growth of the state’s timber industry and its value-added activities. Pemanca Datuk Wong Kie Yik, Chairman of the Sarawak Timber Association (STA), said the timber sector is looking beyond dealing with mere trading partners, who may only be interested in...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Datuk Wong Kie YikThe Sarawak Timber Association has established itself as the leading governing body for the industry in the state. Its Chairman, Datuk Wong Kie Yik, is keen to see investment from Middle Eastern interests.

The head of Sarawak’s leading timber organisation has invited potential investors from the Middle East to join them in long-lasting partnerships that are profitable and beneficial to the growth of the state’s timber industry and its value-added activities. Pemanca Datuk Wong Kie Yik, Chairman of the Sarawak Timber Association (STA), said the timber sector is looking beyond dealing with mere trading partners, who may only be interested in one-off deals.

“We want to emphasise on partnerships instead of just the trading aspect,” said Datuk Wong. “Rather than have people come and go, we want real partnerships so that we can understand each other and help the industry grow.”

Sarawak exported RM6.74 billion worth of timber products in 2010, one of the top exporters in the world. Industry players in Malaysia hope that by 2020, exports can reach RM53 billion. For this target to become a reality, Sarawak must rely on traditional markets such as Japan and India as well as increased penetration into other countries including the Middle East while also luring customers from the United States and Europe. STA is the leading and biggest governing body for timber in Sarawak with about 500 members. Its role is to strengthen links between members, protect their interests, safeguard the timber industry in Sarawak and conduct business that is beneficial to goals and aspirations of its members.Datuk Wong said investment opportunities for potential Middle East investors are plentiful, especially in value-added downstream activities of the timber industry. This basically translates into the various products that are made from timber, with a focus on furniture and its related products. The fresh attention given to value added activities is in line with the business trends of STA members, who are gradually moving into higher-end products and services in order to boost the value of exports.

“Currently, Middle East customers buy our hardwood and logs,” said Datuk Wong.

“We would like to see joint ventures into value-added products such as furniture or furniture parts.

“If we get involved in partnerships with Middle East interests, the relationship would be much stronger than if they were just trading partners.

Although Sarawak is one of the leading exporters of timber and its derivative products, the Malaysian state is facing stiff competition from emerging exporters such as Vietnam and China.While Datuk Wong acknowledged the competition, he said Sarawak’s timber is of high quality which is hard to match by other countries.

“When you talk about Vietnam or China, the advantage they have is their population and manpower,” he said.

“But if you are looking at the sheer quality of tropical timber, then you really cannot beat Sarawak for its unique raw materials.

“Yes, we struggle with manpower but investors should value the quality of timber that we produce and not look at us as a source of cheap materials.

“If they fully recognise the value of the timber available here, then the opportunities will be there for these investors.”

STA, which aims to be the “only timber association” in Sarawak, was formed in 1971 by its three founding member organisations – The Fourth Division Timber Merchants Associations, The Sarawak First & Second Divisions Sawmillers Association and the Third Division & Bintulu District Sawmiller Association.

A key milestone in the orga- nisation’s history came on September 20, 1988 when STA restructured its membership, disbanded the three founding associations and formed a single STA institution.

Its members employ about 100,000 workers in the state and federal government authorities to ensure the timber industry is healthy, thriving and profitable.

With the association’s experience in Sarawak’s leading industry, the future of timber in the state is as solid as the wood it produces.

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