By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Nov 29: Sarawak’s total trade for the period of January–September 2023 has dropped 12.7 per cent to RM140.3 billion as compared to the same period last year, says Deputy Premier of Sarawak Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Awang Tengah, who is also Sarawak Minister for International Trade, Industry, and Investment, told the august House that exports were valued at RM93.7 billion, decreasing by 16.8 per cent while imports stood at RM46.6 billion, contracting by 3.2 per cent.
“This was due to slower global demand, uncertainties in commodity prices and high base effect last year. Subsequently, trade balance was recorded at RM47.1 billion,” he said when presenting his ministerial winding-up speech during the Second Meeting for the Second Term of the 19th Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) at the DUN complex here today.
He disclosed his ministry has introduced two new pilot programmes to further enhance the competencies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) especially for export-oriented entrepreneurs to penetrate global markets.
“One of the programmes is Mintred Connects, which aims to provide more opportunities for SMEs to directly engage with international partners. In June and September this year, 13 Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) and two Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) were signed in Guangzhou and Beijing, China.
“These MOU and MOA will foster greater collaboration in the areas of trade and technology. We have also matched 10 Sarawak SMEs with over 100 partners in China for Sarawak products and services to have wider access to the China market.
“Another programme is the Export Boot Camp, which intends to build the capabilities of SMEs to have better access to the global export market. To date, this programme has benefited over 100 SMEs.”
Furthermore, Awang Tengah noted that SMEs, particularly those involved in export-oriented businesses, are encouraged to leverage on the various Free Trade Agreements signed by Malaysia to venture into new markets and enjoy preferential tax rates. — DayakDaily