S’wak delegation courts German investors, promotes exports

COLOGNE: A delegation from Sarawak attended the recently concluded Anuga Food Fair 2019 and visited several German companies here.

Led by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, the delegation’s presence was in support of Sarawakian companies showcasing a wide range of agricultural and processed food products at the five-day fair.

Fifty-one Malaysian exhibitors participated in the fair, with 34 of them showcasing their products at the Malaysia Pavilion set up by the Frankfurt Office of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), while the remaining 17 were on their own.

Awang Tengah said the delegation courted German investors, while promoting Sarawak’s exports.

“At the Anuga Fair, our exhibitors presented coffee, Sarawak specialty cakes, food and beverages, canned foods, sauces, etc. The Sarawakian companies were made up of SMEs who showcased their products before international buyers,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the Anuga Food Fair.

Sarawak’s main export markets are China, Singapore and Australia.

“Our black pepper is world renowned. By exhibiting at Anuga, Sarawak products get international exposure. We showcased our services such as halal certification (issued by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) which is internationally recognised,” he said.

Awang Tengah said the delegation also visited several German companies, including the headquarters of German semiconductor company Xfab in Erfurt, which has invested in a semiconductor contract manufacturing outfit in Sarawak, namely X-Fab Sarawak.

He laid out investment opportunities for German companies in Sarawak’s agriculture sector, particularly in smart farming with the extensive use of technology.

“We have huge land mass extending to some 12.4 million hectares, offering good potential for agriculture.

“Apart from cash crops like pepper and palm, we are focusing on agriculture such as fruits and livestock. We also have a herbal medicine industry … and have designated 70,000 hectares for halal food processing, agriculture and livestock, among others,” he said.

He said China has been investing in agriculture in Sarawak, with a few more Chinese companies showing keen interest to invest in pharmaceuticals.

“Sarawak’s Biodiversity Centre does R&D in plants which have a good potential for pharmaceuticals used in treating AIDS and cancer. Clinical trials are done and there is close cooperation with US companies,” he said.

Despite signs of a coming global economic slowdown or recession, Awang Tengah is optimistic of the prospects of food supplies.

“Everybody needs food … you have to eat even during a recession,” he quipped, adding that he is very keen of getting foreign companies to take part in downstream processing in Sarawak.

Sarawak offers attractive incentives to potential investors, including a 10-year tax holiday, tax allowance for halal products and land acquisition.

“If a company can complete its project within three years, they can get 30 per cent tax refund. Another attraction is Sarawak’s low energy costs. Sarawak has the lowest electricity cost (generated by hydropower) in the entire Asian continent,” he said, adding that water is also available at cheaper rates.

Awang Tengah said Sarawak aspires to become a high-income and developed state by 2030 by exporting its products and services to the global market.

The deputy chief minister, who was “very impressed” with the Anuga Food Fair, called it a “leading platform with more than 7,400 exhibitors from more than 100 countries.”

The fair attracted over 165,000 trade visitors from 198 countries, organiser MesseKoeln said. – Bernama