Stronger Sabah-Cebu ties eyed

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Friday, March 21, 2014


THE 12-member delegation of the Sabah Federation of Industries expressed interest to work closely with Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to strengthen trade and tourism between Sabah and Cebu.

The delegation also invited members of the CCCI to participate in the Sabah International Expo (SIE) on Sept. 18-21 in Suters Harbour Resort, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau, president of the Sabah Federation of Industries and the organizing chairman of the SIE 2014 said they have extended their network beyond Mindanao to maximize the trade opportunities within the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East- Asian Growth Area).

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He said Cebu is an attractive destination, especially for tourism. “There is a lot to learn from Cebu in terms of tourism. Sabah and the Philippines has a lot of similarities and we can work together to promote tourism for both destinations,” said Wong during the business forum held yesterday at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel.

Direct flights

He said the availability of AirAsia’s direct flights from Cebu to Kota Kinabalu is a welcome development to start promoting trade and tourism.

The Sabah government identified tourism as one of the three lead sectors to spearhead Sabah’s economic development, aside from agriculture and manufacturing. It has become the third economic contributor with a total of RM4.426 billion in tourism receipts in 2010.

Sabah’s economy grows at about four percent annually. It is heavily dependent on external trade.

Sabah’s total external trade in 2010 was RM71.5 billion, comprising RM43.6 billion in exports and RM27.9 billion in imports. Its five largest export markets in 2010 included China, Australia, India, Thailand and Japan.

Aside from tourism, the delegation also expressed interest in the exchange of technology between countries.

“Sharing technology in today’s business is important,” said Wong. He said the still unsolved disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370 served as wake-up call on the importance of the exchange of technology among countries.

Wong said they hope to learn more about Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in the Philippines, which he described as “more efficient” compared to Sabah.

“Philippines has a lot of experts in ICT. I know some who work in Silicon Valley and we hope to learn more from you,” he said.

Expo

The SIE, which happens once in every two years, is a state government-sanctioned event that gathers more than 200 exhibitors from 20 countries.

The event aims to provide a platform for exhibitors to create linkages, showcase latest products and services that meet the demand of the BIMP-EAGA and Asean markets.

The event is anchored on seven major focus areas: manufacturing, agriculture, green technology, real estate, automotive, services and tourism, and gas and oil.

This year, the expo is anchored on the theme: “Sabah-Hub for the Far East.” Its Business Luncheon Talk, which is held along with the four-day expo, expects an audience of 500 business leaders, policy makers, investors, venture capitalists, CEOs and diplomats from the region.

CCCI president Ma. Teresa Chan said the chamber will organize a trade mission to Sabah this September.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2014.

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