Timber products exports are to increase this year following higher demand from Japan which may rise by at least five per cent from its normal requirement due to reconstruction and rehabilitation projects underway after the disastrous March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry secretary-general Datin Paduka Nurmala Abdul Rahim said Japan was the main importer of Malaysian timber products.

"Japan imported RM3.7 billion worth of timber and wood-based products last year and we hope this year's exports would surpass last year's RM20.5 billion worth of exports," she told reporters after launching the Malaysian Timber Council Global Woodmart 2012 here Monday.

Malaysia's timber and timber products exports in 2008 and 2009 totalled RM22.7 billion and RM19.5 billion, respectively, while exports for January 2011 were higher at RM1.8 billion from RM1.7 billion in January last year.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Timber Council chief executive officer Cheah Kam Huan said Malaysia was experiencing tight timber supply as the output has been hit by the need to conserve Malaysian rainforests, logging areas in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak have shrunk and affected by uncertain weather conditions.

"However, we still hope supply will increase by between five and 10 per cent," he said.

Meanwhile, the second MTC Global Woodmart will serve as a premier one-stop selling, buying and networking platform for domestic and international timber suppliers and buyers.

The exhibition also aims to promote and encourage wider use of timber from Malaysian and international sources.

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