Friday, September 29

Awang Tengah: Sarawak has potential to attract more investments from Australia


Awang Tengah (centre) speaking during the webinar. Also seen are the Ministry of International Trade, Industry and Investment’s special advisor Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais (left) and the ministry’s acting permanent secretary Dzulkornain Masron.

KUCHING (Feb 28): Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan believes Sarawak has potential to attract more investments from Australia in the near future.

Speaking at the Business Matching Webinar 2022: Trade and Investment opportunities in Sarawak’ programme today, Awang Tengah said in fact, the state is actively negotiating with some serious investors from Western Australia to invest in Sarawak.

“For agriculture sector, we would like to attract global partnerships to develop technology-driven commercial activities for international markets for our fresh produce as well as processed products.”

Awang Tengah, who is also state Minister of International Trade, Industry and Investment, said there are opportunities for collaboration in the agriculture sector as Australia is very strong in precision farming.

Furthermore, he said the state wants to be branded as a tourism destination for leisure, medical and business groups; the forestry sector to be recognised globally for sustainable management and conservation; and promoting more downstream activities in the mining sector.

Two Australian universities have established their campuses in the state, namely Curtin University of Technology, and Swinburne University of Technology, he noted.

“We are also developing renewable energy to allow economic activities to be performed in a sustainable manner and further enhance investors’ confidence in Sarawak as an investment destination of choice both locally and globally.”

Awang Tengah said the state power generation mix is currently 70 per cent from hydroelectric and 30 per cent from fossil fuels.

Nonetheless, he hoped companies from Western Australia would collaborate with the state’s private sector, particularly in research and development through maybe the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

He said there are also opportunities that can be looked into in digital economy, such as data centre and green technology.

He noted that the total trade between Sarawak and Australia in the year 2020 was recorded at RM3.4 billion or AU$1.1 billion, while the state’s export to Australia was about RM1.5 billion or AU$0.5 billion, comprising mainly crude petroleum, plywood and urea.

“We also delivered several small and medium vessels to Tasmania Port Authority and the mining industries in Australia,” he said.

He added that the value of the state’s import from Australia was about RM1.8 billion or AU$0.6 billion, mainly for aluminium ores and concentrate.

Meanwhile, Awang Tengah said Sarawak is an attractive investment destination with business-friendly policies and investment incentives, as well as an English speaking workforce.

He said the industrial parks in the state have also attracted investments from multinational companies, including Sama Jaya High Tech Park in Kuching that attracted X-FAB from Germany, Western Digital from the US, Taiyo Yuden from Japan, LONGi from China and Iljin from South Korea.

For Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu, companies that have invested included OCI Corporation from South Korea, Press Metal from Malaysia, OM Materials from Singapore, Sakura Ferroalloy from South Africa and Pertama Ferroalloy from Hong Kong.

Wenan Steel from China is currently constructing its steel manufacturing plant at the industrial park, he added.

“Sarawak also has huge deposits of mineral such as kaolin clay, silica sand as well as large reserve of petroleum and natural gas that have yet to be fully tapped.”

He said Sarawak holds 29 per cent of the country’s oil reserves and 54 per cent of the natural gas reserves, while 70 per cent of the population consists of a working age group of 15-64 years old.