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Saturday, 8 July 2017

(The Star) Wee: Address furniture industry issues quickly

BATU PAHAT: Malaysia can regain its position as one of the top six furniture exporters in the world if problems relating to shortage of raw materials and workers are addressed immediately.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the country was ranked the world’s sixth main furniture producer in 2014 and 2015.

But Malaysia slipped to ninth place last year, with competitors such as Vietnam gaining a foothold in the global furniture industry.

“Made-in-Malaysia furniture is well known worldwide for its quality and the country’s furniture export stands at RM9.5bil annually,” Dr Wee told reporters at the Batu Pahat Furniture Manufactur­ers Association annual dinner here.

He said Johor was the country’s leading furniture manufacturer.

He said furniture manufacturers and exporters lauded the decision by the Government to stop the export of rubberwood to China and Vietnam, as the move would help boost local furniture production.

“Another issue that needs immediate attention from the Govern­ment is shortage of workers,” said Dr Wee.

He said the industry needed tens of thousands of workers to ensure smooth production for export, but locals were not interested to take up jobs at the factories.

Dr Wee said he would talk with the Home Ministry so that applications from furniture manufacturers to hire Bangladeshi workers could be speedily processed.