Sabah-Nusantara connection hub can enhance Malaysia-Indonesia trade relations - Consul-general

15 Sep 2023 07:00pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - BERNAMA
Image for illustrative purposes only. - BERNAMA

SANDAKAN - A connection hub between Sabah and Indonesia's new capital, Nusantara, can enhance trade relations between Malaysia and the neighbouring country.

Indonesian consul-general in Kota Kinabalu Rafail Walangitan said Sabah could be utilised as another gateway to the new capital due to its close distance.

"Indonesia is expected to move its capital from Jakarta to Nusantara (in East Kalimantan province) in June next year, and we (the Indonesian government) hope that a connection hub can be established so that visitors from Malaysia can stop by Sabah first.

"Besides a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Balikpapan, the only way to East Kalimantan from Sabah is via ferry from Tawau to Tarakan, which takes about four hours, and another six hours via ferry from Tarakan to Nusantara," he told reporters after attending the inaugural Sandakan Malaysia Day Expo here today.

Rafail said that in an effort to improve connectivity between Sabah and Indonesia, a direct flight between Jakarta and Kota Kinabalu is expected to be launched sometime next month, and a ferry service between Lahad Datu and Sulawesi is expected to be realised by year’s end.

Considering that the new capital city would be closest to Sabah's east coast, the consul-general said that despite much interest among Sabah's business community to seek opportunities with Indonesia, entrepreneurs from the state's east coast had been the most active in promoting trade in various fields.

"It is our hope that with the move, Indonesia can continue to enjoy a more strengthened trade relationship with Malaysia as our biggest trade partner and propel us to become two large economies," he added.

Meanwhile, related to the expo, Sandakan Member of Parliament Vivian Wong, who officiated the event, said more marketing efforts need to be done to promote Sandakan's business potential to attract more investors to the district, hoping that Sandakan's "Little Hong Kong" glory when it was once a bustling economy would return.

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The three-day event beginning today, organised by the Sandakan Chinese Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Malaysia Day celebration tomorrow, showcases 48 companies in various fields such as food and beverage, property, education, automobile and heavy equipment, and expects 10,000 visitors per day. - BERNAMA

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