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CM: Sabah's ban on log exports to continue till conclusive policy in place.

Sabah's ban on log exports will continue until a conclusive policy is put in place by the state government.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said if there were a need to resume exports of timber, it would be done through a state government-linked company (GLC).

'If there were exports of logs, the volume should not be huge because we want to utilise them for downstream (activities) and this should be confined to a special vehicle like Yayasan Sabah and not other parties.

'Let's the GLC does the job, no longer the private sector,' he told reporters after attending a special session on investment opportunities in Sabah here today.

Shafie said at the moment, the state government was going into further details following a temporary ban on export of logs to ensure that there would be enough supply to meet the domestic demand.

'We have to re-look into what is behind it. When I investigated, I found some agreements down there to the extent, for example, for certain period of time, Forest Management Units (FMUs) with some of the people, players have be there to allow themselves to export the logs.

'But I have already instructed (the FMUs) to look further down whether we can refrain them from doing so,' he said.

The Chief Minister said the move to shift Sabah's timber industry from the upstream to downstream activities was crucial to elevate it to a higher level.

In 2017, the upstream activities generated a revenue of RM1.68 billion through export of logs, sawn timber and plywood, while the economic returns from Peninsular Malaysia was RM15.35 billion from downstream activities, mainly furniture manufacturing.

Hence, he welcomed local and international players to capitalise on Sabah's abundance natural resources and set up their downstream mills in the state.

'We welcome them to take advantage of our Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu and Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIB) ready infrastructure.

'Many players focus only on plywood and veneer industry. We want them to go further into downstream (activities) like furniture production,' he added.

Meanwhile, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said interested investors could take advantage of the attractive incentives offered by the government through the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) such as the Less Developed Area Incentive in the form of tax exemption.

'I am optimistic that we can narrow this export revenue between Sabah and the Peninsula as the value-added timber products will fetch much higher prices compared to the sale of upstream products.

'It is imperative that both the downstream and upstream timber industry players in the Peninsula and Sabah tap into this huge economic potential,' she said.

For the January-September 2018 period, Malaysia's exports of wood and wood products dropped 5.1 per cent to RM16.33 billion compared with the same period in 2017.

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Publication:Malay Mail Online (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)
Date:Nov 26, 2018
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