Matrade looking to help increase Sarawak’s contribution to economy

Abu Bakar Yusof.

KUCHING: Many of Sarawak’s products and services have vast export potential as the state has many iconic industries such as ship building and ship repairs.

“This is another good industry for us to explore – how we can promote our ship building and ship repair services to the world. These services have good potential for export,” said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) deputy chief executive officer (exporters development) Abu Bakar Yusof.

In addition, he said Sarawak had great export potential in sectors such as agro-based industry, timber products, palm oil products, and so on.

He said that aside from goods, Matrade also provided funding to support service export.

“We have a programme called Services Export Fund (SEF), whereby we want to promote Malaysian services to the world – not only products,” he said during a session with the media here on Thursday (Jan 20).

“We need to do more engagement. The Matrade office here will continuously reach out to more entrepreneurs, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to explore how they can be involved in export business and how to expand their export market.”

He said three states in the country – Selangor, Penang, and Johor – constituted about 80 per cent of national trade, while in fourth place was Sarawak but with a significant gap in between.

“So we want to look at what we can do to increase this share or contribution of Sarawak to our national trade and to our export as well.”

On trade and export, Abu Bakar said there had been an improvement last year compared to 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first struck.

“For example, for the first 10 months alone last year, our export value at the national level exceeded RM1tril. And up until November, our total trade exceeded RM2tril.

“If you look at Sarawak, there is also an increase in terms of trade. For the first 11 months last year, Sarawak’s trade grew by nearly 24 per cent to RM96.41bil, compared to 2020.

“Sarawak’s export last year up until November also rose by 24 per cent. So that shows the positive momentum of trade, not only at the national level but also at the Sarawak level,” he said, hoping that this momentum would continue.

On Matrade membership, he said they had about 26,000 members thus far, of which about 11,000 were active. As for Sarawak, he said there were about 553 companies in the state which were Matrade members.

“But we need more. This is why we are conducting a lot of outreach programmes so that more Sarawakian companies will register as members. It can be done online and it is free.

“Once registered, they would be in our database and we can conduct programmes based on our database as well.”

He said that in a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan on Wednesday (Jan 19), they had suggested that their database should complement the Ministry of International Trade and Investment’s list of companies and vice versa.

“Some of the companies on the ministry’s list have joined but perhaps some have not. Even if they don’t feel that they are ready, they can start by becoming a Matrade member. After that, we will guide them through the journey so they can be exporters one day.”

He said getting involved in export business not only helped the company itself but also benefitted many others along the whole chain.

In addition, he said Matrade emphasised inclusivity so that no one would be left out of opportunities to expand their business beyond the Malaysian border.

Matrade currently has 46 global trade offices which not only act as a bridge between Malaysian enterprises and global partners but also as providers of market intelligence in the respective regions.

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