While oil and gas production, timber harvesting, and agriculture continue to dominate Sarawak’s economic DNA, significant improvements in transportation and utility infrastructure are now giving rise to an era of economic diversification led by new heavy industries. The state’s relatively small population, large geographical area and diversified economy are providing job opportunities for the state’s inhabitants. The state compares quite favourably to its peers in terms of per capita GDP at $12,507, up from $12,288 in 2012 and $9,150 in 2009. While early investments are primarily being made in energy-intense sectors such as basic metal refining and production, the application of more value-added services focused on the state’s renewable resources has already yielded two large food processing plants and is expected to lead to further development in related fields such as timber and other wood-based manufacturing, advanced ceramics, biotechnology and aquaculture, as well as further downstream applications for the palm oil industry and the wider agriculture sector.
This chapter contains an interview with Awang Tengah bin Ali Hasan, Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, Minister of Public Utilities and Minister of Industrial Development.