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  21st July 2008 - STAR MARITIME

Calls for independent body to study cabotage rule

THE Transport Ministry has been asked to appoint a consultant to set up an independent body to review the cabotage policy and address complaints of high shipping freights between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the long outstanding complaints by exporters and importers in Sabah and Sarawak were discussed recently by the National Logistic Council which he chaired.

He said the independent body was expected to make recommendations for discussion by the council in six months’ time.

The cabotage policy adopted in 1981 reserves the domestic sea trade to Malaysian shipping lines.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Sarawak branch vice-chairman Michael Hii raised the cabotage policy with Muhyiddin during a trade dialogue in Kuching recently.

“I feel this matter should be resolved so that local manufacturers will not suffer from the high freight charged by the shippers,” said Muhyiddin.

On a Sarawak Manufacturers Association official's request that the Government provide special incentives to manufacturers in Sarawak to compensate for the high transportation costs of goods, Muhyiddin said he would look into the matter.

In an earlier keynote address to a Sarawak investment conference, Muhyiddin said the federal government approved 332 projects involving a total investment of RM26.2bil for the first five months of the year.

Foreign investments amounted to RM17.8bil or 67.9% while domestic investment was RM8.4bil.

“The major sources of foreign direct investment were from Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Britain,” he added.

Muhyiddin said the country’s total trade during the first five months of the year grew 11.2% to RM481.6bil against the same period last year.

Exports increased 7.2% to RM213.4bil.


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