Senior officials from the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) in Kuala Lumpur have been visiting their key European export markets over the last week.

Meetings were held with the UK’s Timber Trade Federation in London and the equivalent organisations in The Netherlands (VVNH) and Germany (GD Holz) and were an opportunity to introduce new MTC chairman Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang and to outline future developments and promotional activity.

The latter includes the marketing of next year’s Global WoodMart (October 4-6 at Kuala Lumpur’s Convention Centre.

The inaugural exhibition last year attracted 108 exhibitors from 19 countries and more than 2,000 visitors from 49 countries (TTJ November 13/20, 2010 & ttjonline April 19). “It was a huge success and beyond our expectations” said Cheah Kan Huan, MTC’s chief executive officer. “So we’re doubling the space in 2012 and increasing the show length from two to three days.”

Product development in Malaysia has increasingly focused on value added production.

“Currently, 60% of Malaysia’s total log production is going upstream to plywood and sawn timber, while 40% goes downstream to value added production, such as doors and door frames, windows, flooring, decking and garden furniture,” said Mr Cheah. “The government’s policy since 2005 [and extending to 2020] is to reverse that to 40% upstream and 60% downstream.”

Value adding potentially includes glulam production for the domestic, rather than the export market.

“A glulam interest group including manufacturers, architects, engineers, academicians and government was started in 2005,” continued Mr Cheah.

“This is the future of the timber industry and adds a new business dimension. It will also allow us to build the kind of structures that are currently lacking in our own country.”

The MTC delegation attended Ligna last week before setting off for Norway and Sweden with around 20 glulam interest group stakeholders on a fact-finding tour.

“We will meet with glulam and glue manufacturers and view some glulam structures,” said Mr Cheah.

While glulam production would be for domestic consumption, the MTC delegation stressed the fact that it would “never lose sight of our traditional export markets”.

In 2010 14% of exports went to the EU (6% to the UK).