The Timber Exporters’ Association of Malaysia (TEAM) is forecasting an increase of 5-10% in the country’s timber and wood products exports this year, although it acknowledges that the business faces challenges.

TEAM predicts that the export rise from last year’s total of M$19.5m will come about in part through exploitation of new markets, including the Middle East and India, in addition to Malaysia’s traditional export destinations, the US, Europe and Japan.

Potential obstacles in the way of growth, however, include rising freight rates and shortages of investment finance and workers. In fact, some commentators say that the lack of personnel may lead to wood product manufacturers relocating to Vietnam and China.