A brochure extolling the virtues of Malaysian Oak has provoked reaction from genuine oak producing countries worldwide.

For Malaysian Oak is hevea brasiliensis or rubberwood, and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and the French Le Commerce de Bois have voiced disquiet.

Issued under the auspices of the Ministry of Primary Industries, the brochure claims that Malaysian Oak is comparable with American white oak.

David Venables, European director of AHEC, said: ‘We irrefutably dispute the claim that rubberwood – Hevea brasiliensis – is similar to American white oak.

‘With the constant need to develop and upgrade the promotion of wood, it is not helpful to misrepresent species to the consumer. Accurate information is the key to improving the creditability of hardwood in the market place.’

Eric Boilly, of Le Commerce du Bois, described the issue as ‘sensitive’ and added: ‘We fear a confusion in the mind of our customers about this “new oak”. We hope the people in charge of this promotional campaign will reconsider their position.’

Mr S K Tham, of the Malaysian Timber Council in London, said he is reporting concerns to the Timber Committee in Malaysia and added: ‘I think they will be looking at how they will respond. It is a Malaysian version of what we perceive to be oak, but we are not trying to pass this off as real oak.’