Special zone for investment

11/26/2010 — New Straits Times
The key to a developed nation is its people This is why the Eastern Corridor Economic Region (ECER) has initiated a range of projects from those that help local communities leam skills and enhance their competitiveness, to large-scale projects that offer a wide range of investment opportunities.
To stimulate focused growth in the region the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ) was officially launched in August 2009 by the Prime Minister, Datuk Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak.
A concentration of high-impact projects that stretches from Kertih in Terengganu to Pekan in Pahang, the ECER SEZ is located in the nucleus of the ECER The strategic location means easy access to local, regional and even international markets making it an areaof great potential.
The ECER SEZ will eventually have four ports two airports, several free zones and specialised industrial parks. While ECER SEZ forms only 6 per cent of the entire ECER area, it will act as the catalyst of focused economic growth in the region, creating 50 per cent of all jobs and accounting for 80 per cent of all economic output in the region. This growth will be achieved through accelerated developments in the main economic pillars of high value manufacturing; agro-based industry; oil, gas and petrochemical; tourism and real estate; knowledge education and ICT; and logistics.
An integral part of the ECER which will serve as its economic hinterland, the ECER SEZ will act as the processing and marketing centre for regional agricultural produce, manufactured products and mineral resources as well as a platform from which to participate in the development opportunities within the ECER.
One of the key projects in ECER SEZ is the development of Kuantan Port City (KPC), which will transform the Zone into a manufacturing and commercial services hub as well as a regional distribution and international procurement centre. A major component of the KPC development is the upgrading of the Kuantan Port to a deepwater harbour in order to accommodate bigger vessels. Slated to be a major eastern port due to its ideal location as a main gateway to Asia Pacific trade, it is projected that Kuantan Port will move more than 20 million tonnes of cargo annually by 2020.
The increased logistics capabilities of the region mean that projects like the Pekan Automotive Industrial Park (AIP) and the Kemaman Heavy Industry Park can really take off. Expected to generate over RM4 billion in investments in the immediate future with manufacturing and assembly of motor vehicles, Pekan AIP has already attracted big-name manufacturers. The Kemaman Heavy Industry Park.
Malaysia is already one of the largest exporters of palm oil in the world. The ECER’s Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) project, aimed at accelerating the development of the palm oil industry in the region with its focus on phytonutrients, polyutherane and surfactants, among others, will push not only the ECER but also the nation to greater heights in this respect. The POIC’s location in Kuantan allows for easy access to the palm oil mills that produce feedstock for downstream activities. Also part of the larger Kuantan Port City project, the POIC will benefit from the development that is taking place there, and will gain the use of support services and bulking and distribution facilities.
Another key project in the ECER SEZ is the Gambang Halal Park which will be focusing on food and non-food based Halal products. The park will take advantage of the abundant palm oil by-products available nearby that can be used to obtain oleo chemicals (the main ingredients used to produce cosmetics and health care products). Gambang Halal Park is also ideally situated to take advantage of R&D joint-efforts with the ECER’s Centre of Excellence at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, which has been appointed as the Regional Centre for Halal Products.
Leveraging on the region’s natural beauty and distinctive culture, the ECER SEZ also offers investment opportunities in the tourism cluster which includes the development of mainland coastal tourism in Kijal Cherating and Pantai Sepat and cultural heritage tourtem in Pekan.
The integrated nature of the ECER SEZ, with all its parts working together makes for an attractive and exciting area with vast potential for development. The biggest draw into the area is that the infrastructure has been laid down and the SEZ is ready for expansion. The success of the ECER SEZ certainly means that both the zone’s and the region’s growth will be spurred on to further heights. The ECER has opened its doors wide for investors, and the ECER SEZ is ready to receive them.