PETALING JAYA: The Johor state government has submitted an official proposal for the Iskandar Malaysia region to be designated as the Johor-Singapore special economic zone.
State executive councillor Lee Ting Han confirmed that the proposal had been submitted to the economy ministry, the Straits Times reported in Singapore. He said Iskandar Malaysia was “ready-made to be the SEZ”.
Lee, who is responsible for investment, trade and consumer affairs, said Iskandar Malaysia has the infrastructure and facilities needed for the SEZ, including highways, ports, townships and education institutions.
Malaysia and Singapore agreed in July to create a special task force to study the establishment of a Johor-Singapore SEZ, which was expected to be based in the Iskandar Malaysia region.
Just yesterday, Johor menteri besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi met with Singaporean investors to get views and feedback on the SEZ.
On Jan 14, the prime ministers of the two countries are expected to sign an agreement on setting up the zone.
Lee said: “The Iskandar growth corridor would be a good start, as the area encompasses the planned integrated development of Ibrahim Technopolis in Sedenak town, the heavy industrial area in Pasir Gudang, and the proposed special financial zone in Forest City”, the Straits Times reported.
He said the Iskandar development corridor, which extends from state capital Johor Bahru to Iskandar Puteri, Kulai and parts of Pontian, was slated to attract RM400 billion in investments from its inception up till 2023.
However, this was affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 and the ensuing travel restrictions, which had a hand in property glut in the region.
Lee said an agreement outlining the SEZ’s details is expected to be signed in the fourth quarter of this year.
Iskandar Malaysia, previously known as the Iskandar Development Region and South Johor Economic Region, was established in 2006.
In August 2022, then economic affairs minister Mustapa Mohamed said the corridor recorded a total of RM368 billion in committed investments from 2006 till June 2022, of which RM219 billion had been “realised”.
After China, Singapore is the second-largest foreign investor with RM33 billion in investments committed as of June 2023, involving sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, education, business services and industrial estate development.
Straits Times quoted a government source as saying Malaysia is aiming to attract investments in nine particular sectors, namely energy, tourism, manufacturing, logistics, health, financial services, education, digital economy and business services.
Lee said the SEZ would ease the movement of people and goods across the congested Causeway, with special treatment provided for professionals, managers, executives and technicians to get the necessary visas at a one-stop centre.