Making things cheaper, life better

KUCHING: Abolishing the Cabotage Policy can bring positive impact on timber and sea freight industries besides putting Sarawak at an advantage.

The move will also be good for the state as it will be felt across diverse sectors, Minister of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan observed.

“It can clear away a lot of inconveniences, especially avoiding double handling which in turn could cut costs and time,” he said when responding to a question at a press conference on the third edition of the Sarawak Timber and SMEs Expo at Wisma Sumber Alam here yesterday.

“More importantly, we (timber sector) have large enough volumes (to fill one full container load) for products like plywood which can be shipped directly to our buyers without having to stop in Port Klang,” he added.

Awang Tengah pointed out that Sarawak’s timber industry was mainly for the export market as the domestic market was relatively small.

“There were concerns about volumes for international shipment in the past but we have sufficient volumes now not only for timber but other products so cargo ships would not have to leave empty,” he elaborated, adding construction materials could be brought directly into the state without stopping at Port Klang.

Chipping in, Assistant Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais pointed out that double handling of shipments made products less competitive in terms of pricing.

“Now goods exported and imported are handled twice – first when they arrive in Port Klang and then in Sarawak or overseas. This makes products less competitive unlike single handling,” he said, adding that ports are all over the state now.

Awang Tengah added that local logistic and freight forwarding industries would definitely benefit and see growth in business as they can serve both domestic and international lines.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg had proposed to the federal government to evaluate the cabotage policy when speaking in the ‘Bersama Ketua Menteri Sarawak’ show aired live on TV1 and RTM Kuching on April 24.

He and the state cabinet viewed the repeal of the policy as among the ways to lessen the price of goods in Sarawak, and also a catalyst for the development of the state’s basic infrastructure due to cheaper construction materials.

Meanwhile, he said the Sarawak Timber and SME Expo will return for its third edition this year from May 18 to 21 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK).

The bi-annual expo, organised jointly by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) and the Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment (MIETI), is held in conjunction with the state-level Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) Week celebration.

Awang Tengah highlighted that ‘Timber and Beyond’ will be the theme for this year’s Sarawak Timber and SME Week 2017.

“This marks yet another milestone to bring together and promote Sarawak timber and SMEs,” he said.

Awang Tengah pointed out that the expo is to provide a platform for exhibitors to promote trade and sales of timber and non-timber products produced by local manufacturers.

“Local manufacturers are also able to showcase and highlight the finest furniture and latest products the industry has to offer,” he said in describing the expo as a ‘One Stop Centre’.

“Both buyers and suppliers of timber and non-timber related products and services can source for products and establish networking with potential local and foreign buyers,” he added.

The small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Awang Tengah emphasised, had been the backbone of economic growth of Sarawak and Malaysia in the last decades.

“Recognising their efforts and contributions to economic development and progress, SME Week is held to promote awareness, showcase products and services from diverse industries,” he said.

“SME Week will forge the spirit of entrepreneurship, whilst allowing the discovery of potential investment opportunities that will enable businesses to reach greater heights,” he added.

The expo will showcase a wide variety of products from 230 confirmed exhibitors, taking more than 400 booths.

The timber products will include sawn timber, plywood, veneer, furniture and its components whilst the small and medium enterprises will display and sell locally produced products and services which include the famous Sarawak layered cake, dried fish like “ikan tahai” from Lawas, beverages, cosmetics, clothing and accessories, homestays and many more.

There will also be exhibitors from Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia and even from abroad such as West Kalimantan in Indonesia, South Korea, India, Thailand and China.

The expo will highlight ‘House of Acacia’ and ‘Bamboo Gallery’ as its showcase.

“The House of Acacia will be constructed with an aim to promote and create awareness of the utilisation of Acacia wood as an alternative wood species in furniture industry in the state,” he said.

“The Bamboo Gallery is another initiative taken to create awareness of the potentials and values of bamboo by showcasing the various types of products made of bamboo,” he added.

In addition, forums and pocket talks will be conducted by credible and experienced local speakers throughout the week-long celebration.

Awang Tengah thus urged renowned corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and SMEs to take advantage of the expo to learn, re-learn and gain insights into the latest business techniques to chart the future of their businesses.

Among the many other programmes are business matching sessions for local SMEs with anchor hypermarkets such as Mydin, Giant, AEON, Emart and Everise to promote Sarawak products, as well as performances, fashion show and lucky draws.

The organisers are targeting to receive more than 200,000 visitors for the four-day expo.

Assistant Minister for Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Industrial Development (Investment and Promotion) Minister Datuk Julaihi Narawi as well as STIDC general manager Datu Sarudu Hoklai were among those present.

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