Malaysia is a major exporter of timber to South Africa. The total Malaysian export of timber products to South Africa from January to October 2020 was USD27.9-million, down by 40.3% compared to the same period the previous year.

According to the Tropical Timber Market Report, however, the country reported 29 000 new Covid-19 cases in a matter of a week in January 2021. This represents 16% of the total cases since the beginning of the pandemic in January last year. “To halt the surge in infections health experts have called for stricter measures and have urged the public to comply with the government’s ‘standard operating procedures’ which sets out guidance for individuals. It appears that the source of the new infections has been workplaces and now companies are ramping up efforts to halt a further spread. “The export of Plywood to South Africa is expected to take a hit as the industry faces raw material shortages. Sheikh Othman Rahman, chairman of the Malaysian Panel-Products Manufacturers’ Association (MPMA), says there is an acute shortage of raw materials in Peninsular Malaysia and plywood and panel manufacturers are facing competition from sawmillers for logs. A longer-term solution, he says, is for the industry to explore alternative raw materials such as oil palm trunk, coconut trunk, rubberwood get involved with creating plantations.”

Malaysia exported the following products to South Africa in 2020:

  • Sawntimber: USD11.0-million
  • Wooden furniture: USD10.7-million
  • BJC: USD2.1-million
  • Fibreboard: USD1.9-million
  • Mouldings: USD1.1-million
  • Plywood: USD0.6-million
  • Veneer: USD0.05-million
  • Other products: USD0.4-million

South Africa contributed about 0.7% of the total of Malaysia’s export of timber products from Jan-Oct 2020. The majority of the sawntimber species being exported from Malaysia to South Africa is Dark Red Meranti.