Sarawak needs to upscale supply of fruits to meet China market demands

Wong (seated third right) and Naroden (seated second right) pose for a photo with members of the media at the high tea.

KUCHING, Sept 19: Sarawak needs a huge, constant supply of fruits to meet the insatiable demand of the considerable market of 1.4 billion people in China.

As such Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said he is collaborating with the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development to focus on Sarawak’s niche products to be exported to China.

“As far as China is concerned, any product would be high demand particularly the fruits, for example. But the challenge for us is to produce enough for them. Any type of product (because) market there is so big. Market is insatiable. You can never satisfy them. But we need a huge and consistent volume,” Wong told members of the media during a high tea organised by his ministry at the Sarawak Tourism Complex here today.

To meet such a daunting target, Wong said, his ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development to transform Sarawak’s subsistence agriculture towards commercial agriculture.

Among the high demand fruits in China are Musang King durian and pineapples. Other food items include ‘tongkat Ali’, fish and bird’s nest.

For the first six months of this year, Sarawak’s exports are valued at RM40 billion compared to imports of RM18 billion. Sarawak’s major exports continue to be oil and gas, timber and timber products, and palm oil, while its major imported items are foodstuff, machinery and manufactured goods.

Sarawak’s major trading partners continue to be Japan, West Malaysia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Asean countries, notably Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

On a related issue, Wong said the Cabotage Policy continues to hinder Sarawak’s direct trade with foreign countries.

He said such a policy has continue to stifle direct trading between Sarawak and China.

“I was told that 80 per cent of ships plying the Asean region is registered in Sarawak. So we have the capacity. So, we can do it if we have the volume.”

Meanwhile, Wong paid tribute to former Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed as the best person for the said portfolio as he is hardworking, knowledgeable and highly committed.

Yesterday, Mustapa, who was a former Umno supreme council member announced that he had quit the party.

However, Wong said Sarawak would continue to collaborate with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry under Pakatan Harapan for trade missions overseas.

Present at today’s function were Assistant Minister of E-Commerce Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and the permanent secretary of the Ministry International Trade and E-Commerce Kambri Affandi. — DayakDaily