ECER Malaysia Eyes More Investments From GCC

1/31/2011 — BERNAMA
The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) of Malaysia is confident of attracting more investments from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries this year, especially in the areas of Halal manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, said CEO of ECER Development Council (ECERDC), Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.
ECERDC aims to attract RM5 billion (USD1.67 billion) of investments to ECER Malaysia each year, of which RM2 billion are expected to come from the Middle East nations.
“There has been a lot of keen interest from the Middle East on ECER Malaysia, especially in the areas of Halal industry, tourism and agriculture, particularly livestock and fisheries,” Issace said.
“In fact, we are now in serious discussions with several potential investors from the Middle East and we expect to announce positive developments by this year,” he said at the “Invest Malaysia 2011” report launch here today. Issace is one of the panel speakers in the “Investing in Malaysia 2011” session, which was held in conjunction with today’s launch by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
ECER Malaysia, which covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor, is a rapidly transforming region that is steadily positioning itself as a distinctive, dynamic and competitive destination for investments.
Between 2007 and 2010, ECER successfully attracted RM36.5 billion (USD12.2 billion) worth of investments, of which RM15.3 billion (USD5.1 billion) has already been received. The received investments consist of 158 projects which have created 17,500 new jobs in the region.
Recently, the ECER hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for a US$200 million project involving Dubai-based Oilfields Supply Centre Limited to set up a multifunctional common user supply base at ECER Special Economic Zone which is expected to be ready for operations by 2013.
Issace said ECERDC views the “Invest Malaysia 2011” forum in Abu Dhabi as a good platform for ECERDC to create awareness and reiterate its position in attracting the GCC investment community to participate in the development of ECER Malaysia.
“With its strategic location facing the South China sea, a presence in the ECER Malaysia means that Middle Eastern investors will have instant access to the vast, burgeoning markets of the Far East and the Asia Pacific, with a total population of 4 billion and a combined GDP of US$17 trillion,” Issace said. “The region is also blessed with rich natural resources, such as oil and gas, pristine beaches and abundant land suitable for agriculture. With these inherent natural assets, ECER Malaysia is offering vast opportunities to the Middle East investor, especially in resource-based industries,” he added.
Issace said ECER Malaysia welcomes the Middle Eastern investors to explore investment opportunities in the region’s five key economic clusters, namely Tourism, Oil, Gas & Petrochemical, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Education.
There are also other enabling sectors that investors could tap into, such as the establishment of support services for the five clusters. These include logistics agencies, schools and universities and strategic partners for project implementation.
One of ECER Malaysia’s key attractions is the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ), which will act as the catalyst for focused economic growth in the region. Among the promoted projects in ECER SEZ are the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC), Mainland Coastal Tourism Development of Pantai Sepat, Cherating and Kijal respectively, Gambang Halal Park, Pekan Automotive Industrial Park (AIP), Kertih Polymer Park and Kuantan Port City.
He added that ECER has abundant land, which could fulfil the needs of Middle East countries that are looking for their food security programme.
For Saudi Arabia, Malaysia is one of the selected countries for the kingdom”s Food Security Initiative, which is backed by an investment fund amounting 3 billion Saudi Riyal.
“As Malaysia shares many cultural similarities with the Middle East, this makes ECER Malaysia an ideal destination for investments in Sharia’-compliance and family-oriented resorts and hotels. GCC universities and colleges can also establish their Malaysian branch in this region,” he said.
The oil, gas and petrochemical sector is another strong binding sector for both countries. The state of Terengganu in ECER Malaysia is already well-known as the oil & gas hub in Peninsular Malaysia, and the region also has two established petrochemical complexes, namely in Kertih and Gebeng.
“We are also able to meet the Middle East expectations in terms of halal products manufacturing and certification, for items such as food and cosmetics, as well as pharmaceuticals,” Issace said.
Malaysia’s strength also lies in its “Halal” certification issued by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), which is widely recognised all over the world.
Dato’ Issace said ECER is offering an integrated package to investors, comprising both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. These incentives are specially tailored to investors who are venturing into the key ECER clusters.
“Among others, ECER fiscal incentives include income tax exemption of 10 years, Investment Tax Allowance of 100 per cent on qualifying expenditure, and sales tax exemption.
“Customised incentives are also given to companies based on the merit of each case. Non-fiscal incentives include competitive land pricing encompassing discount rate for land premium, quit rent and land assessment, guaranteed land lease periods for a specific time period and flexibility in the employment of expatriates.”
The ECER also ensures that human capital requirements are met. Training is provided to manpower which can meet the investors’ human capital needs. In addition, funds can be repatriated back to the Middle East, said the CEO.
ECERDC was established in 2008 under a Parliamentary Act, whereby it has been entrusted by the Malaysian Government to helm the project implementation in ECER Malaysia.