KUCHING: Domestic as well as foreign investments in local industries are welcome, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Speaking while officiating at an “Economic Workshop and Policy Briefing on Cooperation between China and Sarawak” yesterday at a local hotel, Awang Tengah said the state welcomes investments in industries that employ the latest modern technologies which can help move up the value chain in the global economy; create highly skilled workers through technology transfer; create supporting clusters and downstream industries, and promote sustainability, green and environment-friendly technologies.
“There are multi-national corporations that have been in Sarawak since the early days. For example, Shell has been here for more than 100 years, and there are others like Nippon Oil and Taiyo Yuden from Japan, X-FAB from Germany and many more multinational corporations,” he said.
The Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister observed that China’s “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) strategy is focused on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between China and Eurasia.
China is also aggressively exploring investments abroad and as the world’s second largest economy it offers great potential for trade and investment.
“Sarawak sees China as its major trading partner. In 2018, its trade with China rose by 16.8 per cent to RM18.91 billion with exports at RM12.07 billion and imports at RM6.8 billion constituting 13.1 per cent of Sarawak’s total trade,” he said.
Major exports to China are liquified natural gas (LNG), vegetable oils (CPO), electrical machinery and apparatus and others while major imports from China are chemical products, coke, lignite, carbon, aluminium ores, base metals and so on.
He noted that Sarawak also offers many comparative advantages and remains among the top preferred investment destinations in Malaysia.
Recent investments from China include the RM1.05-bln silicon manganese plant by Pertama Ferroalloy (Hong Kong), RM2.18- bln integrated solar manufacturing plant by LONGI Technology and the RM17-bln high grade steel plant by Wenan Steel.
“The latest foreign direct investment (FDI) to come to Sarawak is Dongjin Semichem from South Korea, investing $133 million for producing foaming agent used widely in household products, electronics and automotive sectors,
“In agriculture, Guangken Rubber Group Co Ltd from Guangdong had formed a joint venture with Sarawak Farmer’s Organisation to establish the $20-mln Standard Malaysia Rubber (SMR) factory in Debak, Sri Aman,” he said.
In the power sector, China companies have been active in the construction of the state’s hydro-electric dams which include Bakun Hydro-electric Dam by Sinohydro Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd, Murum Hydro-electric dam by Yangtze Three Gorges Technology and Economy Development Co Ltd and the Baleh Hydro-electric Dam by China Gezhouba Group Company Limited.
“In Sarawak, we also offer various non-tax incentives apart from the various tax incentives offered by the federal government which include pioneer status or investment tax allowance and reinvestment allowance,” he said.
Awang Tengah further noted that the non-tax incentives include providing quality power supply at competitive price and making land readily available for projects at reasonable costs with flexible terms of payment.
The theme of yesterday’s workshop was “Consultation, contribution, shared benefits and win-win” which is also the principle of the belt-and-road initiative.
According to the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching Cheng Guangzhong, 2019 marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia.
“According to Chinese official statistics, in 2018 the trade volume between China and Malaysia reached $108.63 billion, increasing at 13 per cent year by year,” Cheng said.
He added that the belt-and-road initiative which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 has made remarkable progress whereby China has signed 172 operations agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organisations.
Malaysia has never been a barrier to cooperation, hence both countries are natural cooperation partners in various fields such as infrastructure construction, equipment manufacture, clean energy, tropical agriculture, marine agriculture, digital economy, green economy, elderly economy and characteristic tourism.
“Tourists from China reached 150 million in 2018 which showed a huge space for both parties to carry out tourism cooperation, and as for the digital economy, China is developing rapidly.
“Information technologies like e-commerce, big data, cloud computing are in the belt-and-road initiative and with this, China can intensify cooperation with Sarawak so as to build up a digital silk road,” he said.
Cheng noted that China will host one of the most important diplomatic events which is the second belt-and-road forum for international cooperation in Beijing. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be attending it.
The forum symbolises the belt-and-road initiative reaching a new level where it provides more opportunities for cooperation between China and Sarawak.