The International Trade and Industry Ministry has partially liberalised the policy governing the entry of international ships into ports in east Malaysia.
It has allowed ocean liners from Japan to deliver goods directly from Japanese ports to Sarawak and Sabah.
Deputy Minister Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan said the decision was made by the Cabinet two months earlier.
“Before this, foreign container ships were not allowed to call at ports in Sarawak and Sabah directly. They had to go to ports in Peninsular Malaysia, like Port Klang, to unload their cargoes onto Malaysian ships that will then forward these foreign goods to Sarawak and Sabah.
“Now, this partial liberalisation will see big ships from Japan commuting directly to east Malaysia without stopping at any transit port,” he told a press conference yesterday.
“The Government felt that it is important to slowly liberalise this shipping policy so that companies in Sarawak and Sabah need not incur additional costs in importing and exporting goods.”
Sagan said his ministry had proposed the move three months ago because it had found that many local shippers who forwarded foreign goods from west Malaysian ports to Sarawak and Sabah had charged exorbitant fees. These fees eventually translated into higher costs for consumers in east Malaysia because the overhead costs were included in the market price.