KUCHING: The government hopes to enhance the business ties between the state and West Kalimantan (Kalbar) slated for mutual benefits.
According to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, both sides share many similarities, one of which is that both have natural resources.
Therefore, a closer cooperation is necessary for both sides to explore all possible ways in adding value to our products, he spoke during a dinner in Pontianak, Kalbar on Sunday.
Awang Tengah also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister led a 160-member state delegation for a business mission to Pontianak recently, of which the programme included visits to business exposition and participation in a workshop session.
It is learnt that Malaysia’s total worth of exports to Indonesia last year was RM34.8 billion, while total imports from Indonesia was RM37.9 billion.
More specifically, Sarawak’s total worth of exports to Kalbar was RM138.4 million in 2014, and RM42.4 million last year; while the imports from Kalbar was at RM31.2 million in 2014, and RM35.2 million last year.
There is still much room to improve as far as the trading between Sarawak and Kalbar is concerned.
Sarawak and Kalimantan have vast tracts of land and are both rich in natural resources.
However, the population in Kalbar is many times more than that of Sarawak, which only stands at 2.7 million. Still, this makes Kalbar a huge market. We can also cooperate in developing agriculture namely the farming, plantation and animal-rearing sectors, said Awang Tengah, citing oranges, aloe vera and clove as good agro-products to venture into.
The deputy chief minister also expressed his wish to see more research and development (R and D) activities involving Sarawak and Kalbar on their natural resources the flora and fauna, in particular.
We have Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, the Peat Soil Institute and many other R and D institutes, apart from the universities. I believe Kalimantan also has similar facilities for R and D. We need to collaborate towards improving our products including food, pharmaceuticals and medicines.
Awang Tengah also acknowledged Indonesia as a key player in the US$3-trillion global halal industry, in that it is the largest manufacturer of halal products in the world.
He also viewed oil palm plantation as an obvious similarity between Sarawak and Kalbar. It is understood that many large oil palm estates are located along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border.
Therefore, there is a need to collaborate in adding value to the related products, through the setting-up of oleo-chemical and biochemical industries. They (plantation owners along the border) could share the processing mills nearest to them, he said, adding that Sarawak has already set up the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) refinery.
Moreover, he also pointed out the state having modern deep-sea port facilities such as those at Kuching, Tanjung Manis and Bintulu these, he said, could be the gateway for oil palm products from Kalimantan to go to the larger overseas market.
Awang Tengah also acknowledged Indonesia’s strong standing in the oil and gas industry.
Sarawak now is also focusing on the oil and gas downstream sectors such as the manufacturing of fertilisers, ammonia and methanol. There are opportunities in these industries, where we (Sarawak and Kalbar) can collaborate.
The shipbuilding industry must not also be forgotten, added Awang Tengah.
Sarawak is the hub of the Malaysian shipbuilding industry, where 60 out of 100 shipyards in the country are located in Sarawak. We are capable of building offshore support vessels, bulkers, barges, tugboats and passenger boats many of them have been exported to Australia, the Middle East, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Europe, he said.
Awang Tengah also believed that there would be a potential for Sarawak and Kalimantan to jointly set up a trade zone at the Tebedu-Entikong border area, where some components could be manufactured at the Indonesian side to be supplied to Sama Jaya High Tech Park in Kuching.
The dinner also hosted Assistant Minister of Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and Small, Medium Enterprise Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development permanent secretary Datu Liaw Soon Eng, Sarawak Energy Bhd chief executive Sarbini Suhaili, Sarawak Business Federation president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg, Malaysian Consul in Pontianak Mohiuddin Ghazali, Indonesian Consul-General in Kuching Jahar Gultom, Governor of West Kalimantan Governor’s representative Muhamad Ridwan, and West Kalimantan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Santyoso Tio.
Source: Sarawak Government