Sarawak welcomes businesses from Italy to engage in bilateral ventures

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has invited businesses from Italy to explore potential collaborations in areas of biotechnology, manufacturing of medical devices, automotive, glass and high-tech products, food technology as well as design and production of high-end furniture that would benefit both regions.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan emphasised that there are plenty of opportunities for trade between Sarawak and Italy especially with Sarawak remaining as one of the most attractive destinations in Malaysia for investment despite the global economic slowdown in the past two years.

“Up to September of 2020, Sarawak ranked No. 1 as the most preferred investment destination in Malaysia in terms of investment in the manufacturing sector worth €3.18 billion or RM15.8 billion.

“Even during this pandemic, serious foreign investors continue to seek investment opportunities in Sarawak. We have South Korean and China investors applying to enter Sarawak to conduct feasibility studies,” he addressed the digital roundtable High-Level Dialogue on ASEAN Italy Economic Relations yesterday.

With Italy being Malaysia’s 20th global trading partner with total trade amounting to RM12.1 billion in 2019, he updated that Sarawak’s total trade with Italy was valued at RM825.6 million the same year.

In terms of trade, Awang Tengah who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, emphasised that Sarawak has always registered positive balance since the 1970s and continued to do so despite the slowing down of the economy.

“Our major export markets are Japan, Peninsular Malaysia, China and Korea.

“Sarawak’s export to Italy in 2019 was RM555.107 million mainly in vegetable oils and ferroalloys whilst our main import from Italy in 2019 was RM207.29 million mainly in engines and motors, chemicals, tractors, ball and hydraulic valves for oil and gas sectors, etc.

“For the first 11 months of 2020, exports to Italy was RM577.9 million while imports were RM141.9 million,” he said.

Emphasising the strengths of Sarawak, Awang Tengah shared that Sarawak with a landmass of 12.4 million hectares is about 40 per cent is the size of Italy (30.1 million hectares) and is blessed with rich natural resources and arable land for agriculture and natural forest.

“The vast rivers have huge energy potential to generate 20,000 MW of hydroelectric powers.

“Sarawak has one of the oldest rainforests in the world, estimated to be 140 million years old, that is rich in biodiversity with huge pharmaceutical potential.

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

With the support and incentives of both the Federal and Sarawak governments, Awang Tengah said that major industries have invested in Sarawak where modern infrastructure and facilities were available.

This includes the Samalaju Industrial Park which attracted foreign and domestic investment in the energy-intensive industry such as Petama Ferroalloy from Hong Kong (manganese alloy and ferrosilicon), OM Holdings from Singapore (ferrosilicon and silicomanganese and high carbon ferromanganese), Press Metal from Malaysia (aluminium ingots and billets) and OCIM from South Korea (polycrystalline silicon).

Another successful industrial park in Sarawak, he added, was the Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone located in Kuching which is home to high tech companies such as LONGi Technology from China (solar), Western Digital from USA (aluminium and glass substrates), X-FAB from Germany (semiconductors), Taiyo Yuden from Japan (multilayer ceramic capacitors) and Iljin from South Korea (copper foil).

With the establishment of Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) to formulate development strategies to push for post-Covid-19 recovery, Awang Tengah emphasised that Sarawak targets remain resilient and promote future economic growth and development up to the year 2030, anchoring on two core principles, namely Digital Economy and Environmental Sustainability.

Assistant Ministers of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and Datuk Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Lombardy Regional Government president Attilio Fontana, Paris School of International Affairs Dean Enrico Letta and partner of the European House Ambrosetti Lorenzo Tavazzi were among those sitting in the roundtable dialogue. – Source: Dayak Daily

Nanga Machan bridge piling completed

Bored piling works for a 130-metre bridge in Nanga Machan, in the Kanowit District, has been completed.

The reinforced concrete bridge will be connected to the 9.5km Ulu Machan road, which is being upgraded to a two-lane R1 standard road.

With the fabrication of reinforcement cages for I-Girders and concreting for the bridge near completion, construction of the embankment slab will begin next month.

Meanwhile, premix laying works for the road is expected to commence within a week.

Construction for both the road and the bridge is expected to be completed by year’s end.

The projects are implemented by the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), under RECODA.

Boat landing facility at Bakun Dam to help local sellers

Fishermen and forest gatherers in the Bakun area now have a reason to cheer as a boat landing facility will soon be available for them to sell their produce.

In a project implemented by the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), the lake-side facility will also feature new concrete road pavement, car park and rest area.

The boat landing facility itself, scheduled to be completed in mid-2021, will be made out of reinforced concrete with an attaching pontoon tower.

Currently, local residents have to rely on a single jetty to sell their wares to customers from the Sungai Asap Resettlement Area, Belaga and even Bintulu, located some 200km away.

When completed, the boat landing facility will give residents the option to offload their wares to middlemen or to sell them directly to visitors and tourists.

Bario to Pa Lungan road being upgraded

A twelve-kilometer dirt road connecting Bario to Pa Lungan, in the Miri division is being upgraded.

The existing road will be improved to a R1 graveled road while a Bailey bridge will be constructed across a river.

With soil investigation works completed, the maintenance of the existing road will continue to ensure continuous traffic movement.

The project is implemented by the Highland Development Agency (HDA), under RECODA.

Phase 1 expansion scheme of Kampung Kuala Lawas underway

The expansion scheme of Kampung Kuala Lawas, in the Lawas district is now underway after soil investigation works have been completed.

Compaction works are currently in progress, along with the installation of geotextile, or permeable fabrics that separate, filter and drains water.

The project, set to be completed by middle of this year, is implemented by the Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA), under RECODA.

Govt to speed up approval for entry of business travellers, subject to strict conditions

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 30): The government is in the midst of improving the process in order to expedite and smoothen the approval process for business travellers who make short trips to Malaysia for investment purposes. However, they will be subject to strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).

To eliminate red tape and bureaucracy, the government has set up a One-Stop Center (OSC) to facilitate a speedy approval process.

The OSC — a quadripartite initiative by Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Immigration Department and Ministry of Health — has been operational since October. The center is tasked to assess and approve applications from long-term business travellers (those planning to be in the country for more than two weeks) and short-term travellers (those planning to visit for two weeks or less).

Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood

When contacted, Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, the Prime Minister’s Senior Adviser on Public Health, explained that such an initiative is aimed at assuring continued inflow of foreign investments when the country is battling with the pandemic. She stressed that it does not mean there would be arrival of a massive number of foreign visitors to the country.

“It is for business travellers that are here for a short period of time. There will be no 10-day quarantine requirement for these individuals, as this would deter investors from travelling to Malaysia to be quarantined, especially when it is just for a two- to three-day visit,” Jemilah told The Edge.

She said the improvements in the OSC will allow fast-tracking — a green lane of sort — for those that are eligible.

MIDA confirmed that the agency is upgrading its capabilities and is working on digitising the application and approval process, as the applications for short-term business travellers are currently being processed manually by the OSC Committee.

MIDA said the upgraded system will be up and running in January, with details to be announced soon.

Short-term business travellers are defined as visitors who enter and stay in the country for a period of 14 days or less. There are four categories, namely:
1. Potential investors that are interested in doing business in Malaysia.
2. Existing investors such as business owners, board members, executives and associates of companies with operations in Malaysia (without employment pass).
3. Business customers, for product qualification and validation before commercial production.
4. Technical experts for ad hoc emergency cases to serve multi-customers across Malaysia.

Interested parties can apply via the upgraded MyEntry System, which will be launched soon, two weeks before their visit. Individuals’ travelling itinerary is required to be submitted to the OSC Committee for entry approval.

An invitation letter from a sponsor must also be submitted, either from a government body (for example, MITI or MIDA) or the Malaysian registered company sponsoring the business-related trip.

Business travellers will also have to undergo a Covid-19 test 72 hours before arriving in Malaysia and will only be allowed to board if they test negative. The second Covid-19 test will be done at the Business Travellers Centre (BTC) upon arrival at the KLIA.

“Works are currently being done for the BTC at KLIA. We expect it to be operational in January,” MIDA said.

A government-appointed liaison officer will be assigned to accompany each business traveller from the airport throughout the approved itinerary, to ensure strict adherence to the SOPs and to minimise contact with the local community.

The business travellers will also be subject to undergo a third Covid-19 test within three days prior to their departure from Malaysia.

Given the rising number of cases in Malaysia and in other countries, some may raise concerns over allowing foreign visitors into the country. Jemilah, however, said that the numbers expected would pale in comparison to the number of people brought in by tourism.

“That is a valid concern. However, we are only talking at most about 2,000 visitors over one year and these people are duly screened. In other words, we are only allowing very specific people under strict controls and observation,” she said.

Jemilah added that many countries are already adopting similar mechanisms for business travellers and that Malaysia’s initiative “did not come out of the blue”, as the government had studied the models employed by South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Europe.

It is a necessary step to revive Malaysia’s economy amid the pandemic, she added. -Source: The Edge Markets