Report from Malaysia: Prices edge up partly due to sliding US dollar
Asia Observatory

17 April 2007

Report from Malaysia: Prices edge up partly due to sliding US dollar

Prices of Malaysian timber products continued to rise in early April, partly due to the steady weakening of the US dollar against the Malaysian ringgit. The Malaysian timber industry is optimistic of riding out the current softening global economy. Optimism has been boosted largely by continued buoyant demand for Malaysian timber products in the EU, China, Japan and the Middle East, particularly in the UAE. This optimism is shared by the IMF latest assessment. According to the IMF, risks to the world economy today are less than they were six months ago. Gangsters damage the image of the forestry industry The Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, claimed that gangsters were involved in running illegal logging operations due to the lucrative returns from trading in unlicensed logs in the black market. According to him, the high demand for cheap logs had fuelled the entry of these people into the timber industry. He added that the problem was getting more pronounced in Sarawak and several other states.
Mr. Chin informed that he would bring up the issue at the coming National Forestry Council meeting for deliberation. He reckoned the need for tough actions to stop the illegal activity that was damaging the image of the national forestry industry. Mr. Chin said that Sarawak was facing problems in containing the involvement of gangsters in the timber trade because of the massive size of the forests in the state.
EU suspends imports of ramin from Malaysia The EU has suspended imports of ramin wood from Malaysia. The suspension was related to the listing of ramin in Appendix II of CITES. The inclusion of ramin in the Appendix took effect in January 2005, regulating its trade. A Sarawak Forestry Corporation senior official said the suspension came as a surprise to both the federal and state authorities as the country had done what was required under CITES. He added that the Sarawak Forestry was looking into the matter and discussing it with federal authorities. He said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had called for an emergency meeting to discuss the suspension in the federal capital. Malaysia exports ramin wood mainly to the EU, USA and Japan. Exports are subject to a quota per state. Ramin is one of the most valuable timber species and it is in good demand in the international market.