National trade statistics for the first four months of this year illustrate the impact of the pandemic on the performance of timber exporters. Malaysian export earnings for the period January to April 2020 fell 10% year on year to RM6.4 billion.
Malaysian sawnwood export volumes for January to April 2020 dropped 36% in volume year on year and by 38% in value (399,934 cu.m and RM734.5 million). Exports of sawnwood to the EU in April were badly affected, dropping 65% year on year to 2,599 cu.m.
In contrast, exports of MDF in April fell just 2% to 38,366 cu m but were reported to have increased in value compared to the previous month.
In April wood product exports from Malaysia to ASEAN countries fell 47% to 3,575 cu m from 6,801 cu m in the previous month. Exports to Indonesia and the Philippines dropped by 23% and 86% to 2,083 cu m and 438 cu m respectively. However, Vietnam increased its buying by 16%.
While there was a recovery in Malaysian plywood exports in April, cumulative exports for January-April 2020 were down 5% in volume year on year and by 13% year on year in value. April exports to ASEAN and East Asia increased by around 5% to 95,517 cu m compared to the previous month.
April exports of mouldings increased 11% month on month in volume and by (a surprising) 157% in value to 8,981 cu.m worth RM32.6 million.
Moulding exports for the period January to April 2020 decreased by 34% in volume and by 28% in value to 57,731 cu.m worth RM219.4 million as compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Exports to the EU for April were recorded at 4,006 cu.m, a decline of 40% compared to the previous month.