Shafie said Sabah's geographic location makes it an ideal logistics hub with the increasing use of the Lombok-Makassar Straits shipping route.
With new port facilities at the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC), Shafie said Japanese companies can take advantage of the eastern Sabah port because it is located in the trade path of the Lombok-Makassar Straits.
"We are along side the Lombok-Makassar Straits shipping route, which is emerging as an important shipping route in South-East Asia. This makes the east coast of Sabah a prime location to develop a logistics hub that can tap into the growing shipping traffic passing through the Lombok-Makassar Straits.
"This is the reason why the state government has developed new port facilities at POIC Lahad Datu," he said to his keynote address at a business seminar in Kobe, Japan.
In a statement made available here on Saturday (Nov 30), Shafie told some 200 businessmen from 140 companies that there was a large potential in Sabah due to its strategic location as a gateway for Japan to expand their trade to the Asean countries.
In addition to being a logistics hub, Shafie said Sabah was known for its natural resources that offer great potential in the fields of oil and gas, halal industry, palm oil, aquaculture, fisheries, seaweed and even furniture making, due to its timber resources.
With 1.5 million hectares of oil palm land, Sabah produces six million tonnes of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and 30 million tonnes of Crude Palm Kernel Oil (CPKO) per annum for the biomass industry, which is popular in Japan.
During the dialogue, Shafie assured potential Japanese investors easy access to any company seeking to invest in Sabah by reducing red tape provided the application is in accordance with standard operating procedures (SOP).
"The furniture industry is yet another area that we would like to see being developed further in Sabah. We have already banned the export of round logs in order to support the growth of the furniture industry", said Shafie.
He added that Sabah has some of the world's oldest rainforests, and said that the state's timber industry is being developed on a sustainable basis in compliance with global standards.
"Malaysia currently exports about RM10bil worth of furniture per year with most of it made from rubber wood. The export volume is expected to reach RM12bil per year by 2020, and Sabah would like to see its quality tropical timber being used for these furniture for export," he said.
Also present was International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is also Sabah Trade and Industry Minister, as well as state officials and officers from federal Government agencies including the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation.
Source: The Star