Singapore, Sarawak ink 8 deals at inaugural trade forum

(From left) Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Singapore chief executive Chew Chang Guan; Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing; Sarawak's Deputy Chief Minister Amar Douglas Uggah; Sarawak's Acting State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion;
(From left) Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Singapore chief executive Chew Chang Guan; Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing; Sarawak's Deputy Chief Minister Amar Douglas Uggah; Sarawak's Acting State Secretary Datu Jaul Samion; Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman, Tan Sri Datuk Amar (Dr) Aziz Dato Husain; and SEDC deputy general manager Edwin Abit at the Sarawak-Singapore Business Forum and Expo.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Malaysian state can use Republic as platform to sell products to the world: Chan Chun Sing

Singaporeans can look forward to new sources of pork and herbal teas, among other products, thanks to eight agreements inked between Singapore and Sarawak yesterday.

One agreement signed at the inaugural Sarawak-Singapore Business Forum and Expo will enable the Republic to import nearly 130,000 live pigs from the eastern Malaysian state by 2022.

Asia Feed Mills managing director Lim Keng Huan, whose company is involved in setting up the pig farm in Sarawak, said: "We plan to export 80 per cent of our live pigs to Singapore, with the rest going to the local market in Sarawak."

He said the project will involve an investment of about US$40 million (S$55.4 million), which will also go into land and technology.

Two farms - one in Sarawak and another in Pulau Bulan, Indonesia - are accredited to export live pigs to Singapore. The pigs are slaughtered here and sold as chilled pork.

When the farm is complete, the Singapore Food Agency will work with the Malaysian authorities to ensure it meets import requirements.

In a speech to open the expo - which was held together with the opening of the Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Singapore (Statos) - Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing told Sarawak Chief Minister Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and other guests that Sarawak can use Singapore as a platform to sell its products to the region and the rest of the world.

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Working together in the region can act as a buffer against the uncertainties of the world... Business relations start from the basis of trust, and all trust starts from the basis that we know each other not just as business partners, but as friends.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING, on the need for collaboration.

"As Singapore seeks to diversify our supply chains and sources of food, there is tremendous potential for us to tap Sarawak," he said.

Singapore is one of Sarawak's key trade partners. The state's total exports to Singapore last year totalled RM1.2 billion (S$398 million).

Statos deputy chief executive Putrie Rozana expressed her hopes that the decision to open an office here will lead to a 30 per cent rise in tourism from Singapore to Sarawak.

Mr Chan said initiatives such as the expo and Statos demonstrate both sides' commitment to strengthening ties, despite global pushback against trade and integration.

He said: "Working together in the region can act as a buffer against the uncertainties of the world... Business relations start from the basis of trust, and all trust starts from the basis that we know each other not just as business partners, but as friends."

These relations, he added, can be furthered via tie-ups in areas such as tourism and agricultural trade.

One collaboration, between local start-up Zoe Botanicals and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, will focus on developing herbal products.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday, the centre will supply Zoe Botanicals with high-quality plant materials to produce Borneo Blend, a mix of tropical herbs that the company claims can control blood sugar.

Both sides will also conduct joint research and development.

Zoe Botanicals chief executive Jason Poh said the company aims to differentiate itself through research and clinical collaboration.

It is supported by the National University of Singapore Graduate Research Innovation Programme, which taps graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and staff to establish and run start-ups.

Zoe Botanicals is seeking funding to validate its product, and is in talks with Singapore General Hospital and FairPrice to sell it here.

The one-day forum and expo, held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, drew more than 800 business representatives and Sarawak exhibitors in industries such as food and beverage, digital media, crafts and tourism.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore, Sarawak ink 8 deals at inaugural trade forum'. Print Edition | Subscribe