ASEAN BAC Malaysia Consultation Meeting: Sarawak should capitalize on the growing global renewable energy market and ASEAN economic integration to attract investments

Kuala Lumpur, 21 October 2021 — The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia held a consultation meeting with the Sarawak state government and state agencies on Thursday to discuss the state’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), its existing priorities and future development plans, as well as opportunities that it can tap into in the larger ASEAN region.

“Sarawak aspires to be a developed state by 2030 and the state government has outlined comprehensive development strategies to grow the state economy to RM282 billion by the same year,” said Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak – Second Minister of Urban Development & Natural Resources, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industry Terminal & Entrepreneur Development.

“This can be achieved at a growth rate of 6.0% to 8.0% per annum, with the state’s development anchored by its key economic sectors, namely manufacturing, commercial agriculture, tourism, forestry, mining, and social services — supported by digital transformation, innovation, basic infrastructure, transport, utilities, renewable energy, and human capital development. These developments are expected to create huge business and investment opportunities in Sarawak. Hence, the Sarawak government welcomes quality investments in both domestic direct investment (DDI) as well as FDI to attain its economic goals,” Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah added.

The session was chaired by ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid, who noted that the goal of this consultation was to listen and learn about the Sarawak government’s sophisticated development plans and how these plans will benefit micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“ASEAN-BAC Malaysia’s last dialogue with Sarawak MSMEs was held in February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and before the government instability at the federal level from March the same year which added to our national woes and no doubt those of small businesses,” said Tan Sri Munir.

1. Sarawak welcomes investments as it aims to become a developed and high-income state by 2030

“Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) welcomes new business partners in developing the vast potential of the state, particularly in our mega projects that will transform the state’s economy,” said Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar (Dr.) Haji Abdul Aziz Bin Dato Haji Husain. “As a state development and investment agency engaged in a diversified range of businesses and services, our objective is to complement the state government’s objective to achieve its goal of becoming a developed state by 2030.”

Highlighting Sarawak’s ability to attract foreign investment, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Raja Singham said, “With over RM15 billion in FDI in the first nine months of 2020, Sarawak continues to show growth while generating new investment opportunities from state and federal authorities. The state should look to expand its overall trade opportunities through cross-border activities and from FDI, especially in the manufacturing and mining sectors. Leveraging the 12th Malaysia Plan will also definitely open doors for Sarawak to flourish further.”

2. Sarawak is well-positioned to attract renewable energy investments

“In line with Sarawak’s aspiration to be a developed and high-income state by the year 2030, we are tasked to spur the growth potentials in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) which includes three regional development agencies, namely Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), Highland Development Agency (HDA), and Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA),” said Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA) Chief Executive Officer Datu Haji Ismawi Haji Ismuni.

“To attract investors, it is vital that we accelerate infrastructure development to drive socio-economic growth in rural areas, which will serve as a foundation to support livelihood and employment opportunities of the rural communities,” he added.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon concurred, adding, “Sarawak is uniquely placed to play a major role in the next global wave of development which increasingly emphasises clean energy and sustainability. Apart from ample renewable energy sources, Sarawak’s large tracts of forests represent potential state revenue from the trading of carbon credits with industries that need these credits.”

3. Sarawak should capitalize on opportunities in the larger ASEAN and BIMP-EAGA region

As Malaysia slowly reopens its economy and with the recent tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), Sarawak has immense potential to expand its market footprint in other ASEAN countries and attract investments from other investors in ASEAN.

“We hope Sarawak will become more purposefully connected with ASEAN economic integration, such as through the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), especially with its high technology and clean energy projects. Digitalization and sustainability of the economy are the way forward for Sarawak and the region,” said Tan Sri Munir.