PUTRAJAYA, DEC 14 :The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) has attracted RM37 billion worth of investments since 2007 until November this year, which have created nearly 30,000 job opportunities for the rakyat, said Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

The total investment amount includes RM12 billion of committed investments recorded in 2012 alone, thus surpassing the original investment target of RM10 billion for the year. Of the committed investments, 27% is in the tourism sector, 37.5% in logistics sector, 16.8% in manufacturing sector, 10.4% in property sector and 8.3% in agriculture sector.

“I am pleased that the transformation of ECER has continued to show remarkable progress in terms of incoming investments, project implementation on the ground and socio-economic improvement among the locals. In addition, ECER has achieved the commendable feat of positioning itself as an attractive investment destination for high-technology sectors such as biotechnology, as reflected by the arrival of global industry players into the Region,” he added.

To date, the Government has allocated some RM2.6 billion to implement 80 high impact projects and programmes in ECER under the 9th Malaysia Plan and 10th Malaysia Plan (Rolling Plans 1, 2 and 3), comprising infrastructure projects such as construction and upgrading of roads and water treatment plants in the Region as well as social development programmes like empower which aims to improve the academic performance and income of the ECER residents.

Among the notable projects that were sealed in 2012 include the RM1.96 billion investment commitment by US-based biochemical company Gevo Inc to develop a cellulosic biomass isobutanol plant in the Kertih Biopolymer Park (KBP). Gevo will be joining South Korea’s CJ CheilJedang Corporation (CJ) and France ‘s Arkema SA as the tenant of KBP.

Earlier this year, CJ and Arkema have already commenced the construction of the world’s first integrated bio-methionine and thiochemicals plant worth RM2 billion in KBP, a major project that is expected to position Terengganu as a centre of new technologies and a regional leader in biorefinery.

In addition, the Kaneka Group of Japan is investing RM287.3 million through its subsidiary, Kaneka Apical (M) Sdn Bhd, for the production of polyimide film in Gebeng Industrial Estate, while Tioxide (M) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Huntsman Tioxide Limited, is investing RM275 million to upgrade its current plant in Kemaman Heavy Industrial Park to produce titanium dioxide pigment.

Another key project in ECER is the 685-hectare (1,694-acre) Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), located within the vicinity of the Kuantan Port City. MCKIP marks a major milestone in Malaysia-China relations, where it is expected to strengthen bilateral economic relations between both countries.

MCKIP is the first bilateral project in Malaysia to be accorded national-level status and it is expected to attract RM7.5 billion worth of investments from local and international investors and create 5,500 employment opportunities by 2020. MCKIP will be developed by a master developer made up of a joint venture company between a Malaysian Consortium and a Chinese Consortium. The Malaysian consortium will own 51% equity in the joint venture company, while the Chinese consortium will hold the balance 49% equity.

The Malaysian Consortium consists of SP Setia Berhad (40% equity), Rimbunan Hijau Group (30%) and the Pahang State Government through Perbadanan Setiausaha Kerajaan and Pahang State Development Corporation (30%). The Chinese Consortium comprises Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group (47.5%), CCCC Real Estate Co. Ltd. and China Harbor Engineering Co. (47.5%), and Qinzhou Investment Co (5%).

Ground works for MCKIP commenced since September and the official ground breaking ceremony by the Prime Minister and Government officials from China is expected to be held in the first quarter of 2013.

ECERDC has been actively showcasing MCKIP during trade shows such as the China-ASEAN Expo 2012 in Nanning and the 4th World Chinese Economic Forum in Melbourne recently.

“We are optimistic that our investment target for MCKIP is achievable, as several international players from various industries have already expressed their interest in the project,” said ECERDC’s CEO Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

Targeted industries from MCKIP include plastic and metal equipment industries, automotive components, fibre cement board, stainless steel products, carbon fibre, electrical and electronics, information communication technology (ICT) research and development, rubber processing, renewable energy, logistics and insurance, petrochemical, non-ferrous metal, steel, palm oil processing and aluminium processing.

Local SMEs should take the opportunity to participate in the MCKIP development, particularly in the construction and development works in the park, the setting up of manufacturing facilities and business operation. They can also provide supporting services such as transportation & logistics, trading & supplies, and food & beverage.

To further spur economic growth in the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ), the Kuantan Port expansion project is moving ahead as planned and the port will be turned into a deepwater port by 2015, capable of handling bigger and most modern ships of up to 200,000 DWT.

The concessionaire for the new deepwater terminal, Kuantan Port Consortium (KPC), has agreed to collaborate with Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group Ltd of China in the Kuantan Port expansion project, as it aims to leverage on the latter’s expertise and capabilities to increase the throughput of Kuantan Port.

The Prime Minister today also announced the re-branding of the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Kuantan to Kuantan Integrated Biopark, in line with ECERDC’s objective to promote biotechnology-related activities based on oil palm biomass in the park. Together with Kertih Biopolymer Park in Terengganu, the Kuantan Integrated Biopark will further push ECER’s positioning in the country’s biotechnology sector and enhance its role in Malaysia’s Bioeconomy Transformation Programme.

To stimulate the growth of knowledge-based economy and ICT industry in ECER, as well as to further develop the local SMEs, ECERDC will also embark on the development plan for the Gambang Technology Park in 2013.