Local SMEs urged to work together, produce quality export products

Awang Tengah delivering his speech. (file photo).

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Sept 5: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan has urged local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to work together in producing quality products for the export market.

Suggesting for production to be made in high volume, he said there is huge potential for export activities in the state for the SMEs.

However, out of 62,000 registered SMEs, only 500 or less than 1 per cent, were involved in export activities.

“In 2019, as in July 31, Sarawak total trade was RM86.1 billion with exports at RM60.3 billion and import at RM25.8 billion. The state registered a trade balance of RM34.5 billion.

“However, out of the total export value of RM60.3 billion, only 22.5 per cent were exports by SMEs.

“The rest, approximately 77.5 per cent of the total exports were contributed by our major commodities such as LNG, crude petroleum, palm oil, timber and timber products and basic metal products namely aluminium and ferro alloys.

“I urge SMEs to work harder to produce attractive, quality packages with longer life span that are suitable taste for specific markets,” Awang Tengah said in his speech at the Sarawak Export Day 2019.

On that note, he revealed that Sarawak has always maintained a positive trade balance since 1968, due to the state’s major export commodities such as oil and gas, timber and timber products, and palm oil.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, said that last year, Sarawak’s total trade was RM143.6 billion, whereby its export value was RM97.7 billion and import value was RM45.9 billion.

“That means our trade balance in 2018 was at RM51.8 billion,” he continued.

Awang Tengah said that in terms of export by commodity in 2018, the highest contributor was mineral fuel and lubricants (62.2 per cent), followed by manufactured goods (16.13 per cent) and animal, vegetable oils and fats (10.82 per cent).

He said the principal commodity export items in 2018 were liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude petroleum, crude palm oil, aluminium, ferro alloy, and timber and timber products, adding that these were mainly mid-stream products.

He urged industry players in the state to add value to these products by going downstream.

On a related issue, Awang Tengah cited his working visit to Singapore, where he met with the Singapore Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, as well as the president of the Singapore Furniture Industry Council.

He said the visit has been positive, where the Singaporeans have indicated their willingness to collaborate with Sarawak SMEs to produce and market furniture to the world.

“We should leverage on Singapore’s position as a gateway to the bigger market.

“Beside my ministry, there are many agencies that can assist on this and hence, do not hesitate to approach agencies like Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama), Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), Sirim and others for better quality products.

“We also have Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Exim Bank, which could facilitate your export activities,” said Awang Tengah. — DayakDaily