KUCHING: Bosnia Herzegovina can be a strategic gateway for Sarawak to promote its halal hub to other countries in Europe.Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud foresaw that a conducive partnership could be formed between Bosnia Herzegovina and the state given the country’s strategic position in Europe.
“Here, I can see that the special position of Bosnia Herzegovina can result in a convenient partnership to promote halal hub in Europe andI’m looking forward to developing this relationshipto a mutual advantage,” he said when launching the Malaysian Global Business Forum at the Borneo Convention Centre here on Sunday night.
He said that the halal hub, centred in Tanjung Manis, was one of the quickest developments under the Sarawak Corridor Of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and had attracted great interest from various countries of late.
A laboratory had also been set up there to introduce Sarawak to a new way of processing that would avoid using substantial amounts of chemicals, he said.
“We all know that the market for halal food and products is quite big and I know that we will have to find partners to interact with in order to make the market for this, active,” he said.
Another area where Bosnia Herzegovina could come in, he said, was the development of electricity, a field which the country had long emphasised.
This being the case, when looking for electricity and even simple things like manpower, Taib said cooperation with Bosnia Herzegovina would yield a lot of advantages.
He said SCORE with its hydro potential and coal reserve had the potential to generate a total of 28,000 megawatts of power by 2030.
This potential, he said, had attracted big investors and also stood to develop 10 trigger industries which include oil and gas, polysilicon, glass and bio-tech.
In addition, he said palm oil covered a contiguous area and would be an important base for SCORE’s development given the product’s expanding usage.
Taib, who is also Finance Minister, said that Sarawak had managed to avoid a contraction by having a slight growth of 0.7 per cent in the economic slowdown last year and expects a growth of between 2.5 and 3 per cent next year.
He said countries in Asia were quite spared from the extremes of the recession because of the steps taken to remedy problems during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, one of which was to secure financial institutions.
Therefore, he said it was quite timely for Bosnia Herzegovina to start forging economic and trade relationships with Malaysia, and Sarawak in particular.
“I feel that this partnership is going to be long drawn and I hope it is not too slow to start. Once you start, I know it is going to be a long-term partnership.
“Therefore it is with this feeling of possible long-term relationship with mutual benefits that I welcome this particular global business forum to initiate years of cooperation with Bosnia Herzegovina in the future,” he added.
Earlier, Bosnia Herzegovina Defence Minister Dr Selmo Cikotic said that as Malaysia and Bosnia Herzegovina shared similar values in terms of economy, politics, multiethnicity and security, commercial bilateral relationship between the two nations could be raised to a new level for mutual benefits.
“In view of globalisation, it is time for business. Bosnia might serve as a gateway for Malaysian businesses into the European Union, especially in southeastern Europe.
“It is time now to have this commercial relationship to be a ‘two-way street’ for both nations and I believe this forum can become the platform to form strategic alliances and explore business opportunities,” he said.
Cikotic said there were many opportunities for companies from Sarawak to invest in Bosnia Herzegovina, especially in energy-intensive and halal industries.
He said the potential areas for business and investment in Bosnia Herzegovina include the fast growing halal industry, Islamic banking, tourism, food production, energy and education.
In addition, he said Bosnia Herzegovina was keen to tap the potentials in SCORE especially in areas of developing and exporting energy.
“Bosnia also intends to transform into a halal hub in the south east of Europe. We can share knowledge and through joint efforts we can link the Tanjong Manis Halal Hub here to the one in Bosnia,” he said.
The Malaysian Global Business Forum is a platform for enhancing global business cooperation between Malaysia and partnering countries, while assisting Malaysian businesses to invest and penetrate global markets.
The forum, which will end on tomorrow, gathers key industrial players from both government and private sectors into a highlytargeted discussion and networking session.
Smaller meetings and events are also held under this banner to assist specific sectors and address certain key issues.
Glenreagh Sdn Bhd is the organiser of the forum, which is hosted by the state government.
Glenreagh managing director Nordin Abdullah said that the forum was to create tangible business results between Malaysia and Bosnia Herzegovina