SABAH HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE AN INVESTMENT HUB: TANGAU

TANGAU… it is time to re-energize the China-Malaysia mutual engagement to the next level

NANNING, Guangxi, China: Sabah has what it takes to become an investment hub in the region, said the State Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau

“We have all the requisite ingredients for your investment to succeed – a strategic geographic location, access to raw materials, supporting infrastructure and facilities and a proactive government.”

“Let me assure you that the Sabah Government is always open to new business ideas proposals. We stand ready to facilitate your investment interest and would do our level best to ensure that all business interactions will be to our mutual benefits”’ he stressed.

“It may be correct for me to sum up that the investment opportunities are limited only by your creativity,” Madius said in his address during the Seminar on Investment Opportunities in Malaysia in the on-going 16th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) 2019, here in Guangxi, China today.

The seminar attracted close to 200 participants from several countries … strategic location

He said, Malaysia can be the logistics hub for the Asia-Pacific region mainly due to the Malacca Straits and the Lombok-Makassar Straits.

“While the Malacca Straits is already well-known, the growing number of shipping traffic passing through the Lombok-Makassar Straits suggests that the east coast of my home state of Sabah is a prime location to develop a logistics hub. I believe the planned transfer and development of the new Indonesian capital to East Kalimantan is a new strategic factor that underlines the growing importance of the Lombok-Makassar shipping route,” he added.

The strategic location of Malaysia as a gateway to the ASEAN Region with a population base of 650 million people and Malaysia geographic location midway between Australia and China means that the country is centrally located within the ASEAN region.

Tangau said, “Our strategic geographic location means that multi-national companies setting up a base in Sabah, for example, would have the advantage of being able to easily tap into the abundant resources and raw materials available in the east ASEAN sub-region in particular.  

“This area covering Southern Philippines, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua New Guinea is the last major frontier of relatively untapped natural resources on land and in the seas.”

ASEAN has a number of sub-regional economic groupings, including the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“With a population of over 60 million people and a land area of 1.6 million square miles, BIMP-EAGA holds vast resources and raw materials. As it stands, the BIMP-EAGA region is already an important source of raw materials for China. These include coal, crude petroleum, minerals and marine resources among others,” said Tangau who is also Sabah Minister of Trade and Industry.

“Located at the heart of the BIMP-EAGA region, Sabah can be your strategic hub to aggregate and process these resources as well as a distribution hub for imports from China, break bulk and then transported to markets in the region. Our strategic geographic location also allows for easier access to markets in Southeast Asia,” he said.

Tangau also urged the close to 200 attendees from several countries to invest in the fast growing halal industry in Malaysia, where the Malaysian halal standards and certification are globally recognised.

“The key drivers of the halal industry include the growing global Muslim population, the growing economies of the Muslim countries and the emergence of new halal markets including the Middle East, Europe, India and of course China itself,” he said.

The halal industry offers diverse opportunities encompassing a wide range of products and services that include food, logistics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients and additives.

Tangau, who is also the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) President, said Sabah is a strategic location for halal processing, halal cargo consolidation and redistribution activities known for its abundant resources such as palm oil, aquaculture, fisheries, seaweed as well as other by-products from palm oil and bio-refineries both within the State and  from the broader BIMP-EAGA region.

“Sabah is free from Hand, Foot and Mouth Diseases (HMD, has a strong governmental support facilitated by the global recognition of Malaysia’s halal certification,” he said.

Tangau also spoke about the fisheries and aquaculture sector, pointing out that Malaysian Government is supportive of large-scale development of high-value aquaculture, industrial seaweed cultivation, seed and fry production, deep sea fishing as well as more value-added, downstream processing of fisheries products such as canning and cold storage.  

On the palm oil based industries, he said, Malaysia currently is the second largest palm oil producer in the world producing about 18 million tonnes per year.  

“While crude palm oil is already well-known, less well-known perhaps are the related downstream business opportunities that the oil palm industry offers, including in the palm-based biomass sector.

“These palm-based resources offer a range of value-adding downstream opportunities for the food-based sector such as shortening, confectionary, ice-cream and bakery fats. In the phytonutrients sector, the products include carotenes, co-enzymes, squalene and lecithin.

“Palm-based oleochemicals can be utilized to produce an equally wide-range of products from personal care to industrial use protective coatings materials. I am sure that there are numerous other products that entrepreneurs can think of and produce using palm-based resources,” he said.  

Tangau also said, the full utilization of palm-based biomass such as empty fruit bunch (EFB), oil palm fronds and trunks, mesocarp fibers, palm kernels shell and palm oil mill effluents (POME) is yet to be fully realised.

“Downstream opportunities include the production of bio-pellets, biofuels, bioethanol and bio-based chemicals. Other areas are furniture from oil palm lumber, wood plastic composite, particle board, pulp and paper, fertilizer and animal feed.

“These are some examples of the finished products that can be produced from palm-based biomass.   In Sabah alone, where palm based downstream industries are limited; we have estimated the downstream potential to be worth more than RM200 billion,” he added.

On the furniture industry, Tangau said, Sabah has designated an industrial area in Sandakan specifically for furniture industry players to locate and pursue their business activities.

“You may be interested to know that in Sabah, we have now banned the export of round logs in order to support the growth of the furniture industry. And we are ready to put in place the necessary measures to ensure that the forestry industry remains as a strong economic sector for Sabah,” he added.

Tangau also touched on the oil and gas, he said Malaysia continues to offer potential investors many fine locations including in Sabah to pursue their business interests.

On the infrastructure and land development, he said the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), for example, is clearly a suitable avenue to pursue some of these opportunities.

Perhaps this gathering, he said, is only logical when we look back at the centuries of interactions that China and Malaysia have had.

“Indeed, in my home State of Sabah there are many stories and legends of Chinese merchants visiting and doing business with our local peoples in the distant past…it is perhaps only right to re-energize our mutual engagement to the next level,” he added.

The seminar was organized by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) led by its Guangzhou director, Nazuki Abdullah. There were also presentation from POIC Lahad Datu, Sipitang Oil and Gas Development Corporation (SOGDC).

Sabah is also represented by 17 entrepreneurs taking part in the expo which will end tomorrow.

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