Ranked amongst the top 10 largest exporters of furniture in the world, Malaysia exports around 80% of its production. With large markets in US, Japan and Australia, Malaysia has a strong position in the global furniture industry. With tremendous growth in exports to UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Russia, Malaysia is now eyeing countries like Algeria, Greece, Puerto Rico and Libya.
The Malaysian wood furniture industry’s success owes much to the survival story of the humble rubber tree. From enjoying the spotlight as the world’s biggest resource for rubber on the international stage, to its decline to number three and the emerging growth of the oil palm industry, it appeared that the rubber tree had lost its importance in the Malaysian economy. However, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of burnt timber, the rubber tree has reasserted its value.
This full cycle of the rubber tree’s lifespan helped drive Malaysian wood furniture from a cottage industry to the multi-billion-ringgit export industry it is today. With the emergence of rubberwood as an alternative source of timber for the wood industry – and value-added products through the efforts of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) as far back as 1978 – Malaysia is now among the leading producers and exporters of wood furniture to more than 160 countries worldwide.
Under the National Timber Industry Policy, the furniture industry is targeted to contribute RM12 billion in exports by 2020. The Government will continue to support the development of the furniture industry in Malaysia through various initiatives to ensure its rapid and sustainable growth. In recent years, the growth has shifted from producing general products towards designing its own, and this has been key in propelling Malaysia onto the international arena. Popular with overseas buyers of the middle to high category, foreign buyers look to Malaysia for manufacturers who can meet their high production demand.
Despite numerous economic downturns, the industry is still supported by a strong global demand. While lower priced Chinese and Vietnamese furniture pose strong competition, Malaysian furniture continues to set itself apart with original design that places importance on aesthetics as well as its good work ethics.
The government also plays an important role in nurturing the industry. Providing Pioneer Status for tax exemption and Investment Tax Allowance, the pro-business environment makes doing business easier and faster.
With a business-friendly environment, good quality products and a high potential market, the Malaysian furniture industry is poised to exceed expectations and to continue its exponential growth.