ECER – A Corridor of Growth

10/31/2009 — New Straits Times
Article was published in The New Straits Times’ special supplement entitled Invest Malaysia in collaboration with MIDA.
Malaysia has earmarked several investment and development regions to spur growth in selected industries and sectors.
The government has introduced economic development corridors as part of nationwide development efforts. The corridors focus on specific areas of growth, introduce incentives and work to raise the local GDP numbers.
One of the five economic corridors is the The East Coast Economic Region (ECER), covering three states Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang — and the district of Mersing in Johor.
As an area meant to attract investment and generate economic activities along the corridor, a 12-year master plan was drawn up, which identified five areas of strength: a major international and local tourism destination, an exporter of resource-based and manufactured products, a vibrant trading centre, an infrastructure and logistics hub and an education centre.
Leading the charge to meet investment goals is the oil, gas and petrochemical sector, focus is now onstrengthening and developing upstream and downstream activities in Kerteh, Terengganu and Gebeng, Pahang.
The Kerteh-based facilities are Kerteh Integrated Petrochemical Complex, which focuses on ethylene-based products and Kerteh Plastics Park. The Gebeng-based facility is the Gebeng Integrated Petrochemical Complex, which focuses on propylene-based products.
With its wealth of human resources and raw materials, the ECER is increasingly attracting manufacturers to move their primary operations to the region. Major producers in palm oil, automotive, halal, rubber-wood products, latex, herbal products, biotechnology and processed food operate here.
To remain competitive, logistics infrastructure, new free zones and specialised industrial parks are being built in the 66,000 sq km area. Among them is Kuantan Port City, which is set to become a major export gateway.
As one of the five strategic thrusts set out in the ECER, agriculture has long been the mainstay of the region’s economy. Development projects in the pipeline include Agro Valley, which focuses on the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, short-term crops and floriculture.
Investors are also attracted to opportunities available in the grain-based animal feed industry, cattle integration in oil palm plantation, cattle feedlot integration in padi-growing areas, beef feedlot integration in pineapple farms, goat-rearing and green animal-feed production.
Another area of strength that is being tapped is the marine industry. Fisheries and aquaculture have registered positive growth and joint venture interest from the private and public sectors.
The Fish Processing Park in Kuantan and Integrated Fisheries Park in Tok Bali are two major industrial projects to meet the demand for fresh fish and fish-based products.
The corridor is also expected to have a major impact on the education sector. To meet the demand for an educated and skilled workforce, priority was accorded to the setting up of Knowledge Park in the region.
Tourism has long been an economic driver in the region and various initiatives have been implemented to boost the sector, such as focusing on eco-tourism facilities to attract domestic and foreign tourists.
Some of the selling points in the region include rich flora and fauna, fishing villages, palm-fringed beaches, caves and wildlife.
The development in the area is aimed at providing an affordable standard of living. Another additional point is the competitive pricing of property, which is generally lower than urban centres in the west coast and south.