Envoy: Thailand can offer Sabah wider regional access

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 22 Aug 2019

His Excellency Narong Sasitorn (fourth right) and Kenny Chua (third right) taking a group pix with the panelists and speakers for the "Bridging Trade and Investment Relations between Thailand and East Malaysia (Sabah)" trade forum and business matching on Wednesday.

KOTA KINABALU: Both Sabah and Thailand stand to mutually benefit from doing business with each other as they will also have access to the wider connections to neighbouring regions, said Thai Ambassador Malaysia Narong Sasitorn.

He said Thailand’s east-west and north-south corridors would give Sabah immediate access to the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) as well as China’s southern provinces.

Thailand, meanwhile, will also stand to benefit from Kota Kinabalu as the main gateway to BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area), he said during a trade forum and business matching session here yesterday.

“Added to this is the planned relocation of Indonesia’s capital to Borneo (Kalimantan), where the project of this size will add a lot of dynamism and consumption to this region.

“We hope Thailand can be a part of the business activities in this growth area,” he said.

Sasitorn said Thailand could provide automotive parts, organic food, high value agricultural products and construction materials.

“From Sabah, we want to import aquaculture products, furniture, and manufactured and biochemical products.

“Apart from trade, Thailand can support Sabah’s vision to diversify into agriculture such as fruits, orchids and farming.

“In tourism, though we have direct flights between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu, we have to look into some kind of partnership in medical tourism and niche tourist packages,” he added.

Sasitorn said Malaysia was Thailand’s number one trading partner within Asean with a total trade value of US$25bil (RM104.5bil) annually, adding that there was room for more growth.

Meanwhile, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is also state Finance Minister, echoed Sasitorn’s sentiments that automotive sector was something they could become trade partners in.

“Apart from tourism, Sabah’s economy has been predominantly export-oriented and dominated significantly by primary commodities such as palm oil, forestry and petroleum.

“Therefore, Sabah has also planned to diversify industries to open up job opportunities for locals. We expect the automotive sector will be a new source of revenue.

“The wood processing industry such as sawn timber, plywood and veneer has also been promoted in order to capitalise on the state’s advantage in respect to the abundance of natural resources,” he said as he elaborated on the furniture industry’s potential.

In his speech delivered by Assistant Finance Minister Kenny Chua, Shafie said the Sabah Agriculture Blueprint would also be tabled soon at the state Cabinet level and it would focus more on downstream activities rather than just raw material production.

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