Asian Furniture - The High Market Demand and the Reasons Behind it

By: Eugene Yeng

The unique manufacturing of Asian furniture has always brought a lot to the market, and in fact, the seven countries in South East Asia: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea and Taiwan, combined have a furniture production of about $12,137 USD. In particular Korea and Taiwan are the largest and most successful furniture markets and although Asian furniture is incredibly popular in the East it is also widely developed in the Western world as well. The market for Asian furniture has really been on the rise since the late 1990s, when "Furniture production fuelled by export demands reached an estimated USD $1,828 million in 2000. Leading overseas importers are the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada" (Furniture-Asian, 2000). Malaysia is especially popular in terms of Asian furniture manufacturing, and many of the other high in demand areas around the world turn to them for their stocks of this furniture because of its multitude, quality and affordable price.

Any detailed analysis of the Asian market would reveal the fact that "the growth is skewed towards China and Vietnam and the rest of the Asian furniture 'giants' such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are witnessing moderate growth. China compensates for the moderate growth in these countries and boots the overall growth of the Asian market" (Frost & Sullivan, 2007). There has always been a sort of internal rivalry held amongst the Asian furniture manufacturers, of which has led to some seriously intense competition within these countries. Overall out of this Vietnam has worked to successfully gain customers from other South East Asian countries, and as well Malaysia's wood furniture industry in particular has come into rather sudden focus.

There are many reasons and points of interests which are involved with the high market demand for Asian furniture, namely in regards to market drivers and challenges. After all, the furniture industry in Malaysia is still outperforming the economy and growth in furniture exports in general is expected to only drive the market further in the future. "Although the USA accounted for almost 34 percent of the furniture imports from Malaysia in 2005, there are other countries such as Australia and Netherlands that have gained considerable share in the recent years. Reliance on one single export destination made the Malaysian furniture industry vulnerable to external economic fluctuations, as evident from the 2001 setback when exports from Malaysia plummeted. The diversification of the export base will definitely reduce the impact of external economic factors and ensure stable demand for wood coatings" (Frost & Sullivan, 2007).

In terms of what the future of Asian furniture exports is expected to be like, Asia overall has experienced an incredible surge for its manufactured goods from some of the world's largest markets namely the United States, and this fad is only presumed to continue for many years to come. Breaking down this trend by nation, "China and the Association of South East Nations, "ASEAN", (of which Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines are major members) were responsible for most gains, while demand held steady for imports from Korea and Japan, and Taiwan actually experiencing a decline in demand for its Asian furniture exports. It is here that we can clearly begin to see the reasons for this disparity" (Furniture-Asian, 2000). There are problems with this assumption of a gain in popularity in the future however, namely that there would be risks to Chinese and ASEAN dominance as the demand for Asian furniture will increase around the world and therefore cause the actual production of Asian furniture manufacturing to rise in the United States as well. This would cause worry that the markets in the East would no longer be so essential, and because of the United States' dominance in the world in terms of economy, China and area would most certainly have reason to worry. There is not, however, anything that would necessary indicate that this would pose any long term challenges to the Asian manufacturers, for one because "as the data would indicate that even in this climate Asian manufacturers have experienced a steady increase in demand for their goods. In the example of the textile industry for instance, even after thirty years of special protections in the US textile industry has yet to pose a challenge to Chinese manufacturers even with the exclusive status it enjoys with CITA and the Commerce Department" (Furniture-Asian, 2000).

Overall then as a result of this, although only time will tell as to what will take place years from now, we can only assume that the manufacturing of Asian furniture in the United States will become more dominant, and although Asian manufacturers may actually tend to see a dip in their market, it will most certainly not be lost and they truly do not have to worry in this case. The ideal agreement would be that the two locales would work together in the market of Asian furniture but either way it is unreasonable to believe that any other industry would fare any better than the actual, original Asian manufacturers. More and more companies are getting into the Asian furniture manufacturing business and wisely, because there does not seem to be any concern that the Asian furniture market, anywhere in the world, is going to drop anytime soon. The beauty, quality and value of this furniture is what keeps it in such high demand in the market all around the world, and any decline in this market would certainly come as quite a surprise.

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