Malaysia’s East Coast Economic Region Eyes GCC Market

1/25/2011 — BERNAMA

Malaysia’s East Coast Economic Region (ECER) senior officials will embark on their second investment mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia from Wednesday to Feb 6 in a bid to woo more investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

ECER Development Council (ECERDC) chief executive Datuk Jebasingam Issace John has described this upcoming trip as crucial, as it would give ECER the chance to seal several business opportunities with companies in the two Gulf nations.

The mission is being organised in conjunction with the launch of “Invest Malaysia 2011” special report and forum in Abu Dhabi on Jan 30.

The event will be jointly opened by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

In a statement, Issace said ECERDC delegates would conduct several business meetings with potential investors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE, as well as Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

“ECER Malaysia is the region to look out for in terms of investment opportunities, especially in the areas of tourism, halal industry manufacturing, oil, gas and petrochemical, agriculture and education, among others,” he said.

“We’re glad to note that Middle Eastern investors are very comfortable with Malaysia as we share many similarities in culture and customs,” he noted.

Chaired by Najib, ECERDC is the statutory body entrusted by the Malaysian government to oversee the development and project implementation in ECER Malaysia.

It conducted a similar mission to the UAE and Saudi Arabia in May 2010.

According to Issace, ECER was in talks with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar to identify potential projects for investment in the special economic zone, and some of these deals may be concluded by this year.

He added that ECER had abundant land which could fulfil the needs of Middle East countries seeking to enhance their food security programmes.

The first of its kind, “Invest Malaysia 2011” report is aimed at the GCC’s corporate leaders and investors.

It will feature an insider’s perspective of the business potential and investment opportunities within Malaysia, including its economic corridors.

ECER Malaysia, which has attracted US$12 billion (RM36.5 billion) in international and domestic investments since 2007 until 2010, is featured in the special report.

Issace will be a panel speaker at Invest Malaysia 2011 forum.

ECER spans the Malaysian states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor.

It covers a total area of over 66,000sq km or 51 per cent of Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to some 3.9 million people, or about 14 per cent of Malaysia’s total population.

Recently, the ECER hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for the US$202.6 million (RM620 million) project involving Dubai-based Oilfields Supply Center 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.

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 three billion Saudi riyal.

“The ECER’s halal parks are also attractive to investors as they are closely linked to the development of livestock, agriculture and manufacturing projects in the region,” according to Issace.

Education is another new area for investments, he said, pointing out that there were already many Middle Eastern students coming to study in Malaysia.

“The ECER offers a Knowledge Park in Terengganu which can cater to this need, and we’d like to see colleges and international universities to set up their campuses here,” he said.

Noting that medical tourism was an upcoming industry, Issace said medical facilities and services were cheaper in Malaysia than in Europe, and Middle Easterners could tap into this while enjoying quality healthcare.

ECER offers 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.

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.