he Malaysian furniture exporters are raking in huge profits overseas despite intense competition within the region and beyond.
Managing director of Malaysian International Furniture Fair Sdn Bhd, Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat, said demand for Malaysia's quality crafted wooden furniture globally has been increasing.
Tan said besides making its mark globally, the industry has also helped boost the Malaysian economy.
"The demand and supply of Malaysian furniture worldwide have increased manifold. Malaysian is ranked number nine in furniture exports," he told Bernama in an interview recently.
He said the industry has come a long way.
Today, the industry boasts of manufacturers like DPS Resources Bhd, Green River Wood Sdn Bhd and Master Sofa Industries Sdn Bhd with overall exports of over RM6.7 billion as at October 2010.
With 85 per cent of Malaysia's furniture exported, Tan said, the country stood a good chance to grab a bigger global market share by moving into non-traditional markets, especially the overlooked Asian market, and not just by focussing on the West.
"The market potentials are good if you look at the current populations in Association of South-East Asian Nations, China, India," he said.
Malaysia's top 10 furniture export markets in 2010, which were worth RM4.78 billion, were the US, Japan, Singapore, UK, Australia, Canada, United Arab Emirates, India, Saudi Arabia and Germany.
Still, Tan said, the success of the industry would depend on its strength to cater to the varying demands of the global market, which saw eco-friendly furniture becoming increasingly in demand.
"We can see demand, particularly from the US, Europe and Australia, focussing more on 'green' specifications mostly in raw materials, processing and packaging," he said.
Tan said international furniture fairs would play a big role in the future of the industry.
"The fairs will allow exporters to establish themselves in the world's furniture fraternity and showcase their products," he said.
Like the previous years, Tan said, the Malaysian International Furniture Fair 2011 (MIFF 2011) would serve as a platform for furniture manufacturers and trading sector to boost their exports.
"We are not only providing the platform for the manufacturers but also helping the industry by organising Ideation Award 2011 for university students to show their talent in designing the furniture," he said.
He said MIFF 2011 was poised to reward this year's exhibitors with potential sales of US$750 million, higher than last year's US$710 million.
"I am optimistic of a better performance this year as the market now has gone back to normal and exports of many Malaysian companies have started to pick up," he said.
This year's fair is the 17th and will be held from March 1-5, 2011. It will be held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and Putra World Trade Centre and 500 exhibitors from 12 countries have confirmed their participation.
Over 300 confirmed exhibitors are local players, while the rest are from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and the US.
Two countries, India and Egypt, will participate in the fair for the first time.
According to Tourism Ministry, an average tourist would spend about RM7,400, and the MIFF 2011 was expected to translate into over RM50 million economic spin-offs.