KOBE, JEPUN: Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie bin Haji Apdal began the first leg of his trade mission in Japan today addressing 200 investors and businessmen from 140 companies in Kobe, Japan by spelling out investment opportunities available in Sabah.
He delivered the keynote address at a business seminar here and spent three hours explaining at length the many business potentials in Sabah due to its strategic location as a gateway for Japan to expand their trade to the ASEAN countries.
In particular, Sabah’s position alongside the increasingly favoured Lombok-Makassar Straits shipping route, ideally places it as a logistics hub for the region.
With new port facilities at the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC), Datuk Seri Shafie said Japanese companies can take advantage of the port because it is located in the trade path of the Lombok-Makassar Straits.
“We lie along-side the Lombok-Makassar Straits shipping route, which is emerging as an important shipping route in Southeast Asia. This makes the east coast of Sabah a prime location to develop a logistics hub that can tap into the growing number of shipping traffic passing through the Lombok-Makassar Straits.
“This is the reason why the State Government of Sabah has developed new port facilities at POIC Lahad Datu,” he said.
Also present was Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Darell Leiking while accompanying the Chief Minister from Sabah, are Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau who is also Minister of Trade and Industry, State Secretary, Datuk Safar Untong as well as senior Sabah government officials.
Officers from federal government agencies included the Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, Datuk Azman Mahmud and CEO of the Malaysian External Trade Development Corportation, Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa.
In addition to being a logistics hub, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie said Sabah is also renowned for its wealth of natural resources that offer great potential in the fields of oil and gas, halal industry, palm oil, aquaculture, fisheries, seaweed and even furniture making, due to its timber resources.
With 1.5 million hectares of oil palm, Sabah produces six million tonnes of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and 30 million tonnes of Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) per annum for the biomass industry, which is popular in Japan.
During a Q & A session, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie assured the Japanese participants the Sabah Government would provide easy access to any Japanese company seeking to invest in Sabah by reducing red tape provided the application is in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
“Sabah is a prime location for investors because it is strategically placed for the halal industry, halal cargo consolidation and redistribution activities and has an abundance of resources such as palm oil, aquaculture, fisheries, seaweed as well other by-products from palm oil and bio-refineries both within Sabah and the broader BIMP-EAGA region.
“The furniture industry is yet another area that we would like to see being developed further in Sabah. We have already banned the export of round logs in order to support the growth of the furniture industry.
“Sabah has some of the world’s oldest rainforests, and our timber industry is being developed on a sustainable basis in compliance with global standards.
“Malaysia currently exports about 10 billion ringgit worth of furniture per year with most of it made from rubber wood. The export volume is expected to reach 12 billion ringgit per year by 2020, and Sabah would like to see its quality tropical timber being used for these furniture for export,” he said.