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‘Tap Into Halal Food Opportunities In Japan’

KUCHING: Local companies are urged to tap into halal food business opportunities in Japan during the coming Tokyo Olympic and Para-Olympic games in 2020.

In making the call, Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais said about 20 million tourists were expected to converge on Tokyo during the games, out of which more than a million would be Muslims.

The international events (Olympic and Para-Olympic games) in Tokyo will bring business opportunities, and it is hoped that local companies will tap such opportunities, particularly in ‘halal’ food industries, Naroden said yesterday.

He added that the Muslim population in Japan is about 150,000, of which 10 per cent are Japanese, creating demand for halal food.

Naroden, who is also Assistant Minister of E-Commerce, was speaking at the launch of a seminar on business opportunities in the halal food industry in Japan at Pullman Hotel here, organised by Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro).

He also said Japan which has a population of about 127 million has great market potential, adding that trade between Malaysia and Japan from January until November last year reached RM126.67 billion, making it the country’s fourth biggest trading partner.

According to him, Japan is also the fourth biggest export and import market of the country, worth about RM68.48 billion and RM58.19 billion respectively.

The major export products to Japan are LNG, electrical and electronic products, chemicals and chemical products, wood products, and optical and scientific equipment, whereas the major imports are electrical and electronic products, machinery, appliances and parts, transport equipment, chemicals and chemical products, and iron and steel.

For Sarawak, from January to November last year, export to Japan amounted to RM24.79 billion, while import totalled to RM1.74 billion.

Sarawak’s major exports to Japan are LNG, wood products, iron and steel products, manufactured metal and wood products, while major imports are electrical and electronic products, machinery equipment and parts, and chemicals and chemical products.

Naroden also said some of Sarawak’s SMEs had penetrated Japan’s market for years, exporting frozen seafood, coconut nectar sugar as well as building materials and timber products

Source: The Borneo Post

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ASEAN, China Plan First Joint Naval Training in 2018

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plan to hold maritime drills later this year in a move security analysts said could be Beijing's way of consolidating power as it moves forward with militarization efforts in the South China Sea.

The two sides announced the agreement earlier this week in Singapore, which hosted defense ministers from the region and Chinese Gen. Chang Wanquan.

A joint statement said while all parties agreed terrorism remained the key challenge in the region, participants reaffirmed the importance of coming up with a code to prevent unplanned encounters on the sea and air.

In particular, the ministers discussed ways to improve practical cooperation and welcomed the conduct of an inaugural ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise at the end of this year, the statement said without announcing a date for the drills.

Sources said tabletop exercises could take place sometimes in October followed by naval exercises involving one of the 10 ASEAN nations later in the year.

The Philippines, which hosted ASEAN meetings last year and appears to have improving ties with Beijing, could be tapped for the inaugural drills, according to a foreign department source who requested anonymity.

Beijing proposed drills three years ago, but some ASEAN members had expressed apprehension because of rising tensions in the South China Sea.

China claims much of the region while rival Taiwan and ASEAN countries Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippine and Vietnam have their own stakes in the South China. In 2016, the Hague-Based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in its challenge to China's efforts in the region.

China has rejected the ruling and continues to expand structures including landing strips on islands it has claimed.

One of President Rodrigo Duterte's first official acts after taking office in June 2016 was a state visit to Beijing in what was seen as a gesture to improve relations with the regional giant.


On Friday, Richard Javad Heydarian, a political analyst at Manila's De La Salle University, said China is moving toward appeasing the South China Sea claimants even as it continues with its vast expansion.

Clearly the Chinese strategy is to seek and secure acquiescence of ASEAN through confidence-building measures and non-ending talks on the Code of Conduct � with most Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines � embracing strategic fatalism amid China's emerging hegemony, he told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

China, Heydarian said, is banking on its overwhelming military supremacy over smaller Southeast Asian states who can gain massive economic benefits if they dropped their antagonistic stance.

Clearly, it's working wonders in Duterte's Philippines, he said, referring to millions of dollars in pledges and contracts from the Chinese side.

In China's view, domination of that area is key to keeping America's naval prowess and footprint in adjacent waters in check, he said.

Benham Rise

Duterte recently demanded a stop to all foreign explorations in the Benham Rise, a mineral-rich undersea region in the Pacific Ocean after learning a Chinese research vessel was granted access.

The Philippines recently laid claim to the region, where it has been carrying out research studies to map out its resources.

Heydarian said that apart from area having major aquatic and mineral resources, gaining access and control there could be key for China to monitor American submarine movement.

They want to protect their burgeoning submarine capacity, which is still vulnerable to western and Japanese technology, he said.

Roilo Golez, the country's ex-national security adviser, urged the government to closely guard the Benham Rise, noting that Beijing was scouting for new sources of energy to power its economy forward.

He warned Chinese submarines could travel to the area undetected constituting a threat to the security of the Philippines and our allies in the western Pacific.

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