KUCHING, Nov 29 — Sarawak exported RM2.3 billion worth of timber products in the third quarter of this year, a decline by 23 per cent compared to the same period in 2022, state Deputy Premier Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said today.

He said the state exported RM3 billion worth of timber products in the third quarter of last year.

“The decline in the export value was due to the decline in the volume of the exported products, particularly plywood,” he said in his winding-up speech in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.

Awang Tengah, who is also the second state minister of natural resources and urban development, said Japan remains the main importer of Sarawak’s timber products, especially plywood, contributing RM1.2 billion or 52 per cent of the overall value of export of timber products.

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He said the other main importers in the top five are India (RM381 million), the Middle East countries (RM189 million), Taiwan (RM121 million), and China (RM104 million).

He urged local timber industry players to show more commitment to implement their transformation activities, and not rely too much on the export of primary products.

He said they should focus on producing high value-added products by using more raw materials from the forest and bamboo plantations.

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He said the biomass industry has a huge potential to be explored in the development of the green economy.

He added biomass products such as wood pellets, biochar and charcoal briquettes are in high demand in the international market because they are considered as more friendly to the environment compared to fossil fuel.

He said as of the third quarter of this year, Sarawak has exported wood pellets to Japan, France and South Korea worth RM36 million.

“Apart from that, the wood pellet products have huge potential to generate green energy in Sarawak in line with the state government’s aspiration to strengthen Sarawak's green energy policy,” he said.

Awang Tengah said wood pellet products can be sourced from many raw materials, such as timber waste, oil palm trunks, and bamboo.