M’sia East Coast Economic Region Courts German Investors

4/27/2009 — BERNAMA

Representatives of Malaysia’s East Coast Economic Region Development Council, who were recently part of a 70-member strong Malaysian business delegation on a visit to Germany, made a strong pitch before a large audience of potential German investors and invited them to avail of the “incredible business opportunities” available to them in Malaysia’s east coast.

“We have earmarked a huge outlay of some RM15 billion (about US$4.1 billion) over the next 15 years. Half of the allocations will be spent for infrastructure development while the other half from the private sectors to develop a number of industries,” said Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, chief executive officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council, in an interview with Bernama in Frankfurt.

“We are looking at all approaches and programmes to accelerate the region’s development from five per cent to 7 per cent of the national gross domestic product and in the process expect to create half-a-million new jobs by 2020,” he said.

He listed a number of areas where the ECER was inherent with good business potential. The attractive features of Kuantan Palm Oil Industrial Park, Pekan Automotive Industrial Park, Pahang Technology Park, Kemaman Heavy Industrial Park, Halal Park, Kuantan Palm Oil Industrial Park, Kertih Plastics Park were highlighted before the investor audience.

Because of the imbalance in the development between the east and west coasts of the country, the Malaysian government’s strategy is to develop logistics infrastructure, including ports, airports, roads and highways which will make shipments and distribution easier.

The private sector would concentrate on developing oil, gas and petrochemicals, resource-based manufacturing industries, tourism, agriculture and education, he said.

One of the “most important projects”, according to Jebasingam, is development of the Kuantan Port which will offer connectivity to two billion people in the Asia-Pacific region.

The port recorded a throughput of 10 million tonnes in 2008 and has projected it to grow to 30 million tonnes in 2020.

“Kuantan Port is also being developed to accommodate larger vessels of the current generation. The expansion is being done to facilitate oil and gas shipments and other commodities, mainly, to Asean markets.

“We are also developing a free trade zone and a transshipment hub for the automotive cluster in the Pekan Automotive Industrial Park,” he said.

Jebasingam said the ongoing global recession might take longer than a year but emphasised that Malaysia would be spared “because of our regulatory controls that are in place to manage the banks”.

Malaysia’s Central Bank, he said, was doing a “good job” whereas in Europe and elsewhere there was a “free for all” with little or virtually no controls.

“Thus Malaysia has a better chance of getting out of the recession …we don’t have a credit crunch,” he added.