||Asean Affairs 18 June 2013
Sarawak investment drive could have spillover effect for Brunei
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
MALAYSIA'S largest state of Sarawak and Brunei's neighbour has been in the spotlight of Qatari investors during the June 12 launch of Inside Investor's Inside Sarawak 2013 report, a business publication that gives an overview on the various investment opportunities in the state, namely in energy, infrastructure, industrial manufacturing, as well as halal production and research.
In his keynote speech at the launch, the state's chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud emphasised on his intent in extending business relationships built with Qatar.
Most notably, the Chief Minister singled out Masraf Al Rayan, one of the largest Islamic investment companies in Qatar, to consider Sarawak's investment opportunities, namely in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which includes growth nodes of hydropower assets, heavy industries and agriculture. He also held talks with Remy Rowhani, director general of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on investment facilitation with Qatari businesses.
"Although our relationship with the Middle East has been quite a long one, now is the time to intensify that relationship because I understand from many foreign investors that they are looking forward to a more intensified relationship with Southeast Asia," Taib said at the launch.
The chief minister revealed that that a deal was developing between Sarawak and Qatar as both sides had identified the areas which could heighten their economic relations, and this deal would definitely bring in a "substantial amount of investment" from Qatar, without elaborating further.
Sarawak, he added, is a "logical choice for the simple reason that Southeast Asia has been emerging and was becoming more attractive with business opportunities". Sarawak itself had managed to come out resilient after it survived the global financial crisis.
Sarawak's leader also made sure to point out his state's gleaming achievements over the past year, which included a steady rise in foreign invest inflow, a rapid development in the infrastructure sector and a growing industrialisation throughout the business nodes in the country.
Taib also pointed at the investment opportunities in research-based growth nodes such as Tanjung Manis Halal Hub, which is meant to become a centre for halal production and development for entire Southeast Asia.
A presentation on the breakthroughs being made in halal science by Professor Dr Winai Dahlan, founder and director of the Halal Science Institute of Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, also signalled some future collaboration. Qatari investors who are interested in halal business ranging from food production, research and services have been invited by the chief minister to take the opportunity provided by the state. Large-scale investments by Qatar in Sarawak could as well have spillover effects for Brunei, which is also on the search for cooperation partners in various sectors.
Brunei's neighbour, Sarawak, has plenty of investment opportunities that reach from energy generation to halal science and is conveniently located in the very centre of Southeast Asia. What would be the sector Qatari investors should focus on so that Brunei would benefit? Let us know through Twitter @insideinvestor using hashtag #bruneitimes. The Brunei Times