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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Lahad Datu Seen As 'Rotterdam Of The East'

22/3/07 KOTA KINABALU (Bernama) -- A Netherlands team is here to help develop Lahad Datu into "the Rotterdam of the East," becoming the gateway for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

The Sabah Minister of Industrial Development, Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, said today the planned Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu has brought this potential to the fore. The POIC is designed to facilitate the export of palm oil and related products.

With the BIMP-EAGA's 60-million-strong market, he felt that Lahad Datu can use its strategic location to become a viable link with Rotterdam, which is Europe's gateway for its exports and imports.

The team is led by the Netherlands Ambassador to Malaysia, Lody Embrechts, and includes several senior officials from the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Embrechts told reporters that there are various sectors in which the Netherlands and Sabah can work together to further grow the economic and market potential of palm oil products both in the European countries as well as in BIMP-EAGA.

"We are here to discuss how we can create a win-win situation in various economic sectors including palm oil-related industries," he said.

"In the global perspective, China is a huge market for Malaysia's palm oil. But after that is the Netherlands. When you talk about Rotterdam, it's the gateway to Europe.

"We are looking at how we can link together, work closer and share our expertise for the benefit of both."

According to him, the Netherlands can offer expertise to Malaysia and Sabah in particular in various sectors such as port development, agriculture including forestry and palm oil-related industries, oil and gas, infrastructure development, logistics, education and human resource development.

Embrechts said that in his talks with Sabah officials, "we have reached an agreement in the sense that we will start working together on these sectors."

The Netherlands is the second largest export destination for Malaysian palm oil and was Malaysia's 12th biggest trade partner last year. Malaysian exports to Netherlands in 2006 totalled RM21.43 billion, making that country its biggest export destination in Europe. Malaysia received RM3.3 billion in investments from the Netherlands last year.


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