KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — The Malaysian furniture industry remains resilient despite stiff competition from countries like China and Vietnam, and the government is committed to supporting its growth and competitiveness by moving it further up the industry value chain.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the industry faces challenges such as declining international furniture demand, especially from key importers like the United States.
“(Hence) collaboration with ministries and agencies becomes crucial to identify new markets and embrace e-commerce trends,” he said in his speech at the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) 30th anniversary gala dinner tonight.
Fadillah, who is also the Minister of Plantation and Commodities, said the industry’s evolution from artisanal craftsmanship to modernised manufacturing methods highlights the need for technological integration and innovation.
“Therefore, embracing technology, mechanisation, and automation will optimise production, reduce costs, ensure quality, and decrease dependence on foreign labor, which aligns with our sustainability goals,” he said.
Fadillah said that transitioning towards a “circular economy” does not only ensure sustainability but also caters to the preferences of an environmental, social and governance (ESG)-conscious consumer base.
“Hence, encouraging the younger generation to embrace digitalisation and technology can invigorate the industry by aligning traditional practices with innovation,” he said.
MIFF is the largest and leading export-oriented furniture trade show in Southeast Asia, showcasing the widest collection of made-in-Malaysia wooden furniture, home furniture, and office furniture.
Since 1995, MIFF has been a one-stop platform connecting a broader community of over 20,000 buyers from 140 countries and regions.
Fadillah said that MIFF’s history speaks volumes, having generated US$18.4 billion (US$1=RM4.66) in sales and this year recording a remarkable US$1.21 billion in orders, a 19 per cent increase from pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, MIFF chairman and founder Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat emphasised that MIFF would continue to serve as a flagship for Malaysian furniture exports to reinforce the country’s position as a global producer.
“Today, MIFF ranks among the world’s top 10 furniture trade exhibitions and stands as the largest in Southeast Asia. I can sincerely say that without the support of the Malaysian furniture industry, MIFF would not be what it is today.
“Let me extend my gratitude to the Malaysian government and its agencies for their strong support of MIFF and to MIFF’s strategic partner, the Muar Furniture Association, for their fruitful alliance over the past 10 years,” he said in his welcoming remarks.
Tan also announced that MIFF 2024 will take place at the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC) and the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur from March 1-4, 2024.
“(The two venues will have) 17 halls to showcase a range of contemporary designed home furnishings, office, and hospitality furniture, accessories, decor, components, and materials.
“Malaysia’s largest exporters will be joined by exhibitors from mainland China, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam,” he said.