KOTA KINABALU: Unlimited trade volume of the revived barter trade between Sabah, Indonesia and Philippines is expected to spur economic growth, curb smuggling and benefit the respective affected communities, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Shafie said all the three parties have made refinements on the older barter trade system and mutually agreed on five new approaches that include unlimited trade volume.
“The authorities at the Malaysia level, the Indonesia level and Philippines level are informed that before the goods are sent off, we must identify the specification of all items that is going to be involved in this trading. (Make sure) it has been identified, it has been approved and certified by the authorities not only in Malaysia but also in neighboring countries Indonesia and Philippines,” he said.
“If, in the past, we have put a few trade restrictions in place, now we have no limit upon the agreement of the three countries.
“This is to prevent smuggling from happening, especially on controlled goods like cooking oil,” added Shafie during a press conference held at the Sabah State Administrative Centre (PPNS) here yesterday.
Thus far, the Chief Minister said 43 barter trade licenses have been issued by the state Finance Ministry and distributed in three initial districts with matured infrastructure and basic facilities namely Kudat, Sandakan and Tawau.
Shafie said whilst Tawau was chosen for its close proximity to Kalimantan, Sandakan and Kudat were selected as they are close to Southern Mindanao and Palawan respectively.
He elaborated these zones were captured for its nearness to reduce the period of travel and increase the safety level, for example against challenging weather conditions, of barter trade between the three countries.
He added this closer proximity also cancelled out smuggling as the illegal activity had occurred because traders had to travel quite a distance, which also increased the price of goods, to get supplies in the past.
Meanwhile, Shafie said only viable players would be selected to ensure the sustainability and reliability of barter trading with Sabah.
“There used to be a few in the past, but we want real players with a track record. We do not want the person just to get a license but the person can damage the image or this trading effort. We want to launch this as best as possible,” he said, adding that players must have the finances, capabilities and networking to promote a robust and sustainable barter trading with consistent supplies for the Indonesian and Philippines counterparts.
He added a special technical committee under the Finance Ministry, involving state and federal ministries and agencies, have also been established to monitor the security and running of barter trade, whilst the possible extension of Pan Borneo Highway through Indonesia’s new capital city state, Kalimantan would facilitate the trading on land.