01 July 2020
Myanmar is producing different kinds of traditional furniture and accessories made of various materials, such as wood, bamboo, or rattan. Despite the booming of modern furniture, Myanmar’s traditional furniture and accessories already secured a place in the market. However, because of the outbreak of Covid-19, local producers of furniture and accessories are facing the loss of some orders cancelled by the costumers.
Although modern furniture is cheaper and largely produced, the wood-based furniture is also preferred by the locals as it has been used since the ancient times. Although teak is the most famous one, different types of wood are also made as furniture with reasonable price.
U Nyan Win, Vice-chairman of Wood-based Furniture Association, said orders for the wood-based furniture during the outbreak of Covid-19 decreased, and some got cancelled as well. The orders are mainly received by organizing the furniture expo.
“We regularly hold furniture expo, and luckily, in February, it was successful to organize the furniture expo, and for my furniture mart, we received about 5 orders and projects from the expo. In March, because of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Myanmar, out of the received orders only one customer continued the order and others cancelled the projects because they are also affected by the pandemic. When the Covid-19 situation becomes quite stable in June, we make contact with the customers again and have received one more order. Although the wood-based furniture enterprises have some orders in hand, it is not as much as it was before.”
The furniture expos are usually held twice a year, in February and October. Without knowing when it will be allowed to organize the huge events, the furniture enterprises are producing some furniture ahead in case of receiving orders later and for the workers not to lose the job.
“Last year, as usual, the customers came to the furniture expo held in February and delivered orders. After completing these orders, we have to prepare for next expo held in October, so our business is running for the whole year. For this year, during these months of Covid-19 outbreak, the business slowed down but we hoped that before October, Covid-19 situation will be under control so that we can organize the expo again,” said U Nyan Win.
The tender for raw wood resumed at the beginning of June. And, as the Wood-based Furniture Association, it is to seek the raw materials in large amount to distribute to the small furniture enterprises with installment. Because of suspension of hotel operation, which usually uses wood-base furniture, the furniture market depends on house decoration. When the economy is on the way to recovery, with the better flow of income of people, the furniture enterprises are expecting to receive more orders and increased sales.
This is the same matter to the rattan products, which are mainly exported to the western countries. Local consumption of rattan furniture is not as large in scale as export. Annually, about 10 rattan enterprises are exporting rattan furniture and accessories for about $2 million.
“In Myanmar, furniture and accessories are produced by rattan for the export and local consumption. But, the local market is small and we mainly depend on export. During the first four months of this year, we have already received the orders, but some companies cancelled the order. We are working to complete the remaining orders. We can see about 30% to 50% drop in order compared to the previous years. When working for the remaining orders, our workers do not need to stop the job because it takes quite longer to complete a rattan product. After finishing the orders, we produce some products in advance for regular order,” said Daw Nan May Khine, Vice-chairman of Myanmar Rattan and Bamboo Entrepreneurs Association.
This year is still the difficult year for the furniture and accessories market, and the rattan enterprises are looking forward to smooth office procedures for export, so that they can endure and complete the few orders remaining.
“It is still difficult for the consumers at the second four months of the year. I think over the last four months of this year, the local market will become stable but since we mainly depend on the export, I think, we have to wait for next year for our furniture and accessories enterprises to resume the export processes. When we are facing difficulties, the office procedures and documents are making us slow in export procedures. So, for the rattan products to have better market situation in international market, we need more smooth regulations,” said Daw Nan May Khine.
When people’s income becomes lower because of the social-economic impacts posed by Covid-19, it is not possible for people to spend on extra items, and they tend to spend more on essential items such as food. The suspended operation of hotels also has negative impacts on furniture and accessories market. Since furniture and accessories are not the essential ones, it depends on the recovery of economy for the market to thrive again.
Thaw Tar Swe Zin