KUCHING: The digital economy transcends borders and it will be worthwhile to promote cross-border trading by utilising digital technology, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“Cross-border trading is one of the approaches for us to increase our productivity,” he said in response to a question during the Chief Minister’s Webinar entitled ‘Sarawak 2021 Budget: Towards A High-Income Society In 2030’ hosted by the Sarawak Business Federation on Monday (Nov 23).

He said the state had set up the Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore (Statos) and was planning to establish similar trade offices in Brunei and Kalimantan.

“For a start, we can integrate our trading activities with our partners in this region,” he said, adding that there were many products from Borneo that could be marketed.

He said an area with significant potential was the food supply chain, noting that a population of over three billion was accessible within a five-hour flight from Malaysia, including India, China, and East Asia.

He said that those in the private sector here could connect with their counterparts in these regions.

“We are setting aside substantial funds for our digital infrastructure — not only within the state but for international linkages as well,” he said, adding that information could be directed to customers in real time.

On another matter, Abang Johari emphasised that the economy must be driven by the private sector and those from the private sector must take the initiative.

“The initiative must come from the private sector and the government can facilitate. If you were to work with foreign entities in certain areas, the government will facilitate that.”

He said if there was a need, the government would be able to amend certain laws to meet the needs of the private sector.

Also present during the webinar were Sarawak Business Federation president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg and deputy president Datuk Philip Ting, who moderated the session.