Sarawak mulls setting up trade office in Bangkok

Abang Johari (centre) with Ambassador of Thailand to Malaysia Narong Sasitorn (5th left) and entrepreneurs from both Sarawak and Thailand.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Aug 23: Sarawak government may consider setting up a  foreign trade office in Bangkok, if Thailand does the same when trade volume improves between the two regions.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state would like to work towards enhancing trade and business relationship between the two regions, although he admitted it was still a bit premature to set up a trade office in Bangkok.

The state has recently set up its trade offices in Singapore, and soon in Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) and Pontianak (West Kalimantan, Indonesia).

“If the volume of trade between Sarawak and Thailand increases, and they set up a trade office in Sarawak, then we may set up one in Bangkok just like what we did in Singapore,” Abang Johari said at the Trade and Investment Relations between Thailand and Sarawak forum, here, today.

The trade office in Singapore would facilitate activities in the agriculture, manufacturing and tourism sectors, as well as networking between the countries concerned.

Although Thailand is geographically not within the East of Asean, Abang Johari said Sarawak welcome Thailand’s presence all for one purpose, especially to jointly tap the state’s economic potentials for the benefit of both nation.

“Our strength is in the renewable energy sector and we are looking forward to selling more power to Kalimantan, Brunei and Sabah in addition to the existing Sarawak-Kalimantan cross border connection that benefits about 8,000 households in Kalimantan.

“This is some of the successes of our sub-regional cooperation but there is nothing that should stop us from cooperating with other regions outside the sub-region.

“Trade between Sarawak and Thailand may not be significant due to a ‘missing link’. Again, nothing should stop us from working with Bangkok on a similar concept to bridge that ‘missing link’ for our mutual benefits,” he continued.

Sarawak is endowed with abundant natural resources such as land, water, electricity, oil and gas and biodiversity, which is why the state government want to value add further these resources in order to give better return, he said.

For 2018 alone, Sarawak received US$2.2 billion worth of investment and is ranked the top three states in Malaysia.

“Therefore, we are inviting companies in Thailand to invest in Sarawak. I am confident that there are numerous opportunities we can offer to potential investors covering investment in both resource and non-resource based industries,” he said.

The resource based are halal industry, palm oil based, food processing, wood based, petrochemical, biotechnology, biomass, pharmaceutical and hydrogen.

He added that the state needed investors who are interested to invest in the high value added downstream processing activities as they continue to move away from a commodity-based economy.

As Sarawak aspires to be a food production hub in the region and net food exporter by the year 2030, Abang Johari said, “To realise this objective, we are strengthening the agriculture supply chain, particularly by using technology and IoT to increase production.

“We know Thailand is strong in agriculture and Sarawak should tap into Thailand’s expertise and explore greater collaboration in this area. We also know Thailand is also strong in tourism and we welcome people who can help us to tap our tourism potentials.”

Although Sarawak does not have a direct air connection with any parts of Thailand, he said that does not mean they cannot explore the possibility of establishing such a connection in the future. — DayakDaily