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In the beginning, Sarawak’s economic priority was to develop its natural resources, in the agriculture and forestry sectors, and to provide a basis for industrial growth to in order to create job opportunities. Between 1963 and 1973, 36 percent of the GDP was attributed to the primary commodities sector, particularly agricultural husbandry, forestry and mining. After 1972, the mining and manufacturing sectors became the biggest contributors to the State’s GDP. The average GDP growth rose from RM3,679 million in 1981 to RM6,559 million in 1990.

In 1995 Sarawak recorded 4.1 percent growth following the production increase of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), manufacturing and the construction sectors. By the turn of the 21st century, the agricultural and plantation sectors, particularly palm oil, became mechanized and Sarawak adopted modern methods of farming. Agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction and the service sectors became the State’s mainstay of economic growth by 2005. Agriculture doubled its size from RM0.65 billion in 1990 to RM1.6 billion while services was the State’s biggest sector, making up 31 percent of real GDP sector and overtaking the mining and quarrying sector at 29.9 percent.

Between 1991 and 2005, the Sarawak economy grew at an average pace of 5.5 percent per annum, raising the GDP in real terms by more than two times from RM9.9 billion to RM22.2 billion. Thanks to the mining and corporate sectors, the per capita nominal GDP also rose from RM7,467 in 1990 to RM21,260 in 2005.

During this period the tourism industry also helped to spur the growth of the services sector that ranged form transport and communications, restaurants and hotels, to commerce and other services.

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