With its rich endowment of natural resources and strategic location within the Indo-Pacific, Sabah offers investors a range of opportunities for trade, investment, leisure, and lifestyle across burgeoning markets. Sabah serves as the access point to neighbouring high-growth regions and offers ever-improving infrastructure for air and sea transportation.
Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, is the business centre for the state and is well regarded for its liveability. With the support of the national government, Sabah’s policies and investment incentives prioritize improving the business environment to make Sabah the preferred investment location within the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) region.
Trade & Market Access
With its strategic location in East Malaysia, Sabah serves as the access point for the BIMP-EAGA region and Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle. Sabah is positioned along major shipping routes servicing affluent markets within East Asia, and the fast-developing regions of Southern Philippines, Brunei, and Indonesia’s new capital city in Kalimantan.
Sabah opens access to a market of approximately 23.88 million people across the island of Borneo, spanning the Malaysian state of Sarawak, Indonesian state of Kalimantan, and the country of Brunei. The relocation of Indonesia’s capital to Kalimantan brings a major economic centre closer to Sabah’s borders, opening opportunities to the capital of the largest economy in the region.
Among Sabah’s major trading partners include Peninsular Malaysia, China, Australia, India, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brunei.
Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, has direct air connectivity to many international cities within a flying radius of three to six hours. The Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia.
Sabah has 8 maritime ports with specialised terminals for efficient cargo handling, providing an ideal gateway for regional trade and transshipment activities. Sabah’s geographical location, especially its proximity to the lucrative sea route to China, South Korea and Japan, opens investors to transshipment and value-added cargo services.
The Pan Borneo Highway will serve as Sabah’s access point to Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan, Indonesia’s new capital city.
Sabah is endowed with abundant natural resources and biodiversity, and is home to unique and precious wildlife. The state also holds over 40 percent of Malaysia’s protected terrestrial and marine areas within three terrestrial parks, six marine parks, and 1.9 million hectares of protected forests and conservation areas.
The coasts of Sabah are home to over 75 percent of all Malaysian reefs and also part of the world-renowned Coral Triangle, the planet’s epicentre of marine biodiversity. The geographical proximity to this ecological wonder unlocks state-wide and varied marine catch, well-positioning Sabah to capture high-value agri-processing activities.
The North Bornean state also has fertile agricultural land and a climate suitable for food production, whereby soil and climatic conditions are suitable for large-scale agri-commodity development.
Kota Kinabalu features an equatorial and tropical rainforest climate with temperatures as high as 32 degrees Celsius (°C), and a considerable amount of rain (from about 150 centimetres/60 inches to over 450cm/180in) and high humidity (averaging 85%–95%) throughout the year. In most parts of Sabah, the rainy period occurs during the North East Monsoon (October–February), while the drier season aligns with the South West Monsoon (March–September).
Sabah is home to over 33 indigenous groups that communicate in over 50 languages and 80 dialects. The main languages used by the local population are Malay and English, although it is also commonplace to hear various Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), and local indigenous languages like Kadazan-Dusun.