KOTA KINABALU: The 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) should include two Free Trade Zones (FTZ) in Sabah to enable the state to become the preferred gateway for exports from the BIMP-EAGA region, says the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Sabah (SME Sabah).
BIMG-EAGA covers the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area.
SME Sabah president NK Foo, who welcomed the 12MP initiatives to transform micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) into a more competitive business, said the plan has, however, missed out on the trade zones.
"Sabah needs an FTZ in Sepanggar covering the west coast area, and another in the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster covering the east coast, to enable Sabah to become the preferred gateway for the exports of agriculture and other products of BIMG-EAGA to North Asia.
"Sabah is located strategically in the region, and our historical close diplomatic ties and bilateral trade with China gives Sabah the advantage in trade with the country especially," he said on Tuesday (Sept 28).
On another note, Foo said the implementation of the Jendela initative, which will see enhanced digital connectivity, is also vital for MSME to move into the global market.
"In today's new normal with the wide use of e-commerce, having good and wide Internet coverage is important for both MSME and consumers.
"Developing a unified portal to facilitate MSME in obtaining essential information on financing resources and advisory services can give MSME a better understanding and access to these vital resources.
"Enhancing the competitiveness of MSME through shifting more MSME from the domestic market to the global market will enable them to scale up through exporting," he added.
In terms of basic infrastructure, Foo said having sufficient water supply in Sabah is as important to the people as it is to those in economic sectors.
He also said that besides addressing water shortage, building new infrastructure for water conservation such as dams as well as upgrading existing infrastructure can help reduce flooding in the state.