Malaysia to fight for rubber wood

Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik of Malaysia will visit Scandinavia next year to counter a growing anti-rubber wood campaign in Scandinavia. The campaign is threatening Malaysia’s RM5bil wood-based furniture export industry.

“We are not taking this without a fight,” the minister said at the opening of the Swedish furniture giant, Ikea’s Asia-Pacific regional distribution centre on 25 November, 2002. 

According to the minister, furniture manufacturers and retailers especially in Sweden are behind the campaign trying to list boric acid as a toxic chemical in the European Union and get their respective governments to ban the import of rubber wood furniture using the boric acid treatment.

“They are claiming that there are environment and health dangers in the way we use boric acid and borax in the process to remove latex residue from sawn rubber wood,” Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik was quoted by the Malaysian newspaper, The Star.

Mr. Lim said he had instructed ministry officers as well as rubber and chemical experts to prepare facts and figures for him to put up a convincing case in the country’s favour. Boric acid is used to prevent mouldiness and “blue stain” which appears on furniture from untreated rubber wood. Using boric acid was a breakthrough for the use of rubber wood which is widely recognised as the most sustainable source of tropical wood.

Earlier in his speech, the newspaper said Lim had called on manufacturers to invest in research and development as well as come up with new designs instead of relying on the “copy” syndrome as cheap furniture from China had last year cost Malaysia a drop of 14 percent in furniture export.

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