KUCHING: Less than one per cent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sarawak are involved in export activities, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
According to him, only about 500 of the roughly 62,000 SMEs in the state produce products for export, saying much work is needed to produce quality products for overseas markets.
“There is so much potential for export activities in Sarawak for the SMEs. Work together to create bigger volume. Work harder to produce attractive and quality packages with longer lifespan and suitable taste for specific markets,” he said at the launch of Sarawak Export Day 2019, here yesterday.
The two-day event was launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Awang Tengah said while the state’s total export value this year up till July stood at RM60.3 billion, only 22.5 per cent were by SMEs.
“The rest, approximately 77.5 per cent of the total exports, are contributed by our major commodities such as LNG (liquefied natural gas), crude petroleum, palm oil, timber and timber products and basic metal products namely aluminium and ferro-alloys,” added the International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Minister.
Meanwhile, he said with Sarawak’s imports standing at RM25.8 billion, the state has a positive trade balance of RM34.5 billion – something which has been maintained since 1968.
He attributed the state’s strong trade balance to major export commodities such as oil and gas, timber and timber products and palm oil.
In terms of export by commodity, Awang Tengah said the highest contributor was mineral fuel and lubricants at 62.2 per cent followed by manufactured goods (16.13 per cent) and animal, vegetable oils and fats (10.82 per cent).
On Sarawak Export Day, he said the event comprised Export Forum and Export Showcase – both aimed at developing the state’s products and services for the export market.
He said the showcase will serve as a platform for entrepreneurs to learn about export, especially to benchmark the standard and quality of products and services for the international market.
“I believe Sarawak Export Day 2019 is a good start for us to work together to achieve our common goal,” he added.
Among those present were Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, assistant ministers of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and Malcolm Mussen, as well as State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar.