‘Break from tradition’ dare

Kota Kinabalu: Local entrepreneurs must no longer depend on the
traditional ways of doing things but be bold enough to focus on
striking into the global market, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa

He said Sabah has for too long relied heavily on exporting commodity products such as palm oil, rubber and cocoa.

“I believe the State would fare better if it can increase production of
higher value added products arising from greater downstream
activities,” he said, when launching the Borneo International Trade
Fair 2009 (BITF2009) at Magellan Sutera, Saturday.

He said in order to go global or to do even better locally, businesses
must be willing to allocate funds for Research and Development to
create products and services that will catch the interest of consumers.

“The Government has a number of schemes designed to assist firms in
R&D, and in product and market development. Businesses could also
work with private research bodies, and with universities, to complement
work done by the Government,” he said.

He said vast opportunities are in sight for halal products in the
global market. “The potential of the halal industry has been the
subject of wide interest for quite some time. Looking at current global
market trends, it is increasingly clear that the halal food market has
extended beyond serving the needs of Muslims around the world.

“This is due to the fact that the halal concept in food production is
gaining recognition as a new benchmark for safety and quality

“The global market value for trade in halal food and non-food products
is estimated at US$2.1 trillion annually and local entrepreneurs should
find ways to take part in this lucrative sector,” he said.

Musa also urged local entrepreneurs to complement programmes under the
Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) by continuing to keep themselves at
breast with the latest technologies to meet challenges in the
borderless world.

He said information and communication technology (ICT) had helped to
reduce the cost and hassle of doing international business.

Another area that local entrepreneurs must explore was the
technology-related businesses, especially with more advanced foreign
partners in this field.

He said they must consider the prospect of collaborating with
international parties in identifying key areas of technological
interest that would benefit the local economy.

Musa, who is also Finance Minister, said the Government on its part
would continue to support events such as the BITF as it brings benefits
to local entrepreneurs and creates new business opportunities for the

He told the BITF 2009 delegates that to attract more investment from
the private sector, the Government too was doing its part to improve
infrastructure, which is a basic requirement for businesses to

“Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the national budget for next year,
Sabah will continue to improve its infrastructure, and provide a
platform for businesses to succeed,” he said, adding a lot of
development in recent years in the state were implemented through a
number of Federal and State led initiatives.

Towards this end, Musa said the SDC, which is an 18-year plan that
leverages Sabah’s strength in a number of key areas, was one of the
most important programmes undertaken by the government with support
from the private sector.

“I am glad to note that the organisers have set up a special pavilion
at the BITF so that delegates can learn more about the SDC and its
progress,” he said.

He added that the theme for the second biennial BITF, “Your Ultimate
Destination for Business, Culture and Nature,” accurately reflects
Sabah in many ways.

He said that Sabah has a lot to offer to investors and visitors alike
with its unique and peaceful multi-racial society feature combined with
diverse cultures and natural wonders.

According to him, the trade fair was significant for Sabah as it
provided the platform for local businesses to showcase their products
and services to the global market, and at the same time exposed them to
opportunities in other countries.

Musa also commended the organising committee comprising the Sabah
Bumiputera Chamber of Commerce (SBCC), the Sabah United Chinese Chamber
of Commerce (SUCCC) and the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (KCCI) for working together to stage the international level

Meanwhile, SBCC President, Mohd Hasnol Datuk Ayob said the three-day
BITF 2009 that started on Nov. 13 at the Kinabalu Sports Complex in
Likas managed to garner participation from 170 companies taking up 190

“We also recorded foreign participation from China, Taiwan, Thailand,
Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. I am please to note that these figures
are an improvement over those achieved by the first BITF in 2007,” he

The BITF aims to promote and strengthen trade and investment relations
in the region. “The BITF provides a platform for manufacturers and
producers in Asean particularly within the BIMP-Eaga region and beyond
to showcase their produces and services, as well as investment
opportunities in their respective states and countries.

“It also provides a venue for businessmen and investors to interact,
exchange ideas and information, and the opportunity to initiate and
develop business ties, networks and friendships,” he said.

Also on hand were State Cabinet ministers, assistant ministers, Mohd
Hasnol’s SUCCC counterpart, Datuk Sari Nuar and KCCI counterpart,
Frederick Lojingki, Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority
(Sedia) Chief Executive, Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Johari and
consulate-general of the Indonesia, Japan and Brunei as well as