Sarawak considers China a crucial trading partner — Awang Tengah

Awang Tengah (seated, sixth from left) poses for a photo-call with others after opening the workshop. To his right is China’s Consul General in Kuching Cheng Guangzhong.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 23: China is still a major trading partner for Sarawak, recording RM18.91 billion in trade volume last year, which represented 13.1 per cent of the state’s total trade.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said China’s trade with Sarawak rose by 16.8 per cent last year, with export value at RM12.07 billion and import value at RM6.8 billion.

Major exports to China included liquefied natural gas (LNG), vegetable oils (crude palm oil), electrical machinery and apparatus, while major imports included chemical products coke, lignite, carbon, aluminium ores and base metals.

He said Sarawak welcomed both local and foreign investments, with priority for industries that employ the latest technology and know-how to help the state move up the value chain. This includes helping the state create a highly skilled workforce through technology transfer.

“Collaboration must also create supporting clusters and downstream industries that involve the local business community and promote sustainability, green and environmentally friendly technologies,” he said in his keynote address at the Economic Workshop and Policy Briefing on Cooperation between China and Sarawak here today.

Awang Tengah, who is also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister, said Sarawak offered many comparative advantages and remains among the top three preferred investment destinations in Malaysia for the past five years.

Recent investments from China included the RM1.05 billion silicon manganese plant by Pertama Ferroalloy (Hong Kong), the RM2.18 billion integrated solar manufacturing plant by LONGi Technology and the RM17 billion high-grade steel plant by WenAn Steel.

The latest foreign direct investment (FDI) in Sarawak is Dongjin Semichem from South Korea, totalling US$133 million for producing foaming agent used widely in household products, electronics and automotive sectors, he added.

In agriculture, Awang Tengah said Guangken Rubber Group Co Ltd from Guangdong had formed a joint venture with Sarawak Farmers’ Organisation to set up the US$20 million Standard Malaysia Rubber (SMR) factory in Debak, Sri Aman.

China companies have also been active in the construction of hydro dams in Sarawak, such as Bakun Hydroelectric Dam by Sinohydro Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd; Murum Hydroelectric Dam by Yangtze Three Gorges Technology and Economy Development Co Ltd; and Baleh Hydroelectric Dam by China Gezhouba Group Co Ltd.

Apart from the various tax incentives offered by the federal government such as Pioneer Status or Investment Tax Allowance and Reinvestment Allowance, the Sarawak government also offered various non-tax incentives. This includes providing quality power supply at a price that is regarded as the lowest in the region and making land readily available for projects at reasonable costs and with flexible terms of payment.

“If investors completed their projects and operate within three years, they are also entitled to a 30 per cent discount, whereby their fourth and final instalments will be waived,” he said.

Awang Tengah said Sarawak would continue to promote trade in the industrial sectors such as energy-intensive industries and downstream sectors at Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu; halal-related industries at Tanjung Manis Economic Development Area in food production, pharmaceutical, health products and cosmetics; high-tech manufacturing at Sama Jaya High Tech Park; petrochemical industry, downstream timber-based industries, oleochemical industry, as well as data center and digital economy.

China is also the country’s largest trade partner for 10 consecutive years since 2009.

In 2018, Malaysia’s trade volume with China rose by 8.1 per cent to RM313.81 billion, with exports at RM138.88 billion and imports at RM174.93 billion. This constituted 16.7 per cent of Malaysia’s total trade. — DayakDaily