A network of new roads, including the Pan-Borneo Highway, is set to make Borneo Island the new emerging market in Asean. A think-tank, Society Empowerment and Economic Development of Sabah (SEEDS), is pushing for Sabah businesses to explore business opportunities with Indonesia's Kalimantan as connectivity comes in place.
SEEDS chairman Datuk Badil Zaman Fazul Rahman said with the Pan-Borneo Highway a certainty for Sabah and Sarawak while Trans Kalimantan Highway was also taking shape, the viability of doing business in the whole Borneo Island would become a reality.
"The feasibility of doing business in the whole Borneo Island will change drastically in near future as major cities from Sarawak to Sabah and the rest of Kalimantan will be more connected, more than ever before" he said.
Both highways can be the catalyst for economic growth in Borneo Island as it can induce development along the corridor and becomes a new growth cluster. He said that as Sabah moves towards diversifying its economic portfolio, there was a need for businesses in the state to identify to economic areas.
"Considering the geographical location of Kalimantan, especially North Kalimantan, that is close to Sabah, and the fact that its economy is booming, the need to further explore market potential in Kalimantan is essential" he said.
Sabah's south eastern Tawau, which is strategically located close to North Kalimantan, provided a huge potential in becoming major economic powerhouse within Borneo, Badil said. "Tawau can position itself as a central economic hub linking Sabah with the rest of Kalimantan" he added.
He said SEEDS together with Chinese Chamber of Commerce Tawau held a roundtable discussion "Market Potentials in North Kalimantan" on Sunday in Tawau. "We want to provide information to business community in Tawau on market potential in North Kalimantan" he said adding that representatives from North Kalimantan would also be present to talk about business opportunities there.
"The discussions were also to identify issues, concerns and challenges of business communities in exploring business opportunities in North Kalimantan. "The roundtable discussion will serve as a platform for participants to share their opinions, and recommendations for future actions" he added.
Some 80 participants from various organisations that include among others representatives from the poultry, shipping, plantation, fishery, business chambers and furniture industry. Tawau Municipal Council, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) will also be attending the roundtable talks cum seminar.
SEEDS has been working with North Kalimantan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in recent months and has proposed for a free trade zone at the border between Sabah and North Kalimantan.