JOHOR BARU: Setting up the Iskandar Malaysia economic zone puts Johor in a prime position to attract more foreign investments, especially from Singapore which is facing high rent and operating costs, say business groups.
Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said Johor has the advantage of offering lower rental and operating costs as well as vast land space compared to its neighbour.
“This has made the state an attractive place for financiers.
“Many international companies have already set up their manufacturing facilities and offices in Johor, the latest being major players in the global biomedical and medical packaging industries.
“Companies with offices in Singapore have also expanded their business to Johor such as accounting firms and call centres, which allow the services to be carried out remotely.
“Singapore is a strong financial hub and I think the Johor government should continue collaborating with them.
“With the right strategies, we will be able to attract more foreign direct investments into the state,” he said in an interview.
On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the Finance Minister, tabled Budget 2023 which outlined the government’s proposal for an economic zone in Iskandar Malaysia with competitive incentive packages to pull in foreign investors and retain skilled workers in the country.
Low said the government should tie the Iskandar Malaysia economic zone with the Ibrahim International Business District (IIBD) development and Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) for the initiative to be more efficient and effective.
The ongoing IIBD development entails the creation of a new business and financial zone spread over 10.1ha in the heart of Johor Baru while the RTS is set for completion on Dec 31, 2026, with operations slated for Jan 1, 2027.
Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said the local multi-racial talent pool is a plus point for the Iskandar Malaysia economic zone where they can be trained to meet the required expertise in various industries.
“This will help to keep local talents in the country as investors do match salaries based on their knowledge and skills, besides encouraging Malaysians working overseas to return home.
“The initiation of the economic zone will bring spillovers to benefit the local economy, so it is crucial that the Johor stakeholders and government agencies in charge of areas such as land availability, transport, immigration, power, water and skilled workforce support this initiative,” Sivakumar added.
Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) president and chief executive officer Datuk Idzham Mohd Hashim said its focus area of Iskandar Puteri has been positioned as a major investment destination by creating and attracting value-added investments to encompass more emerging markets in Johor.
“Iskandar Puteri will continue to capitalise on the government’s strategy to strengthen Iskandar Malaysia’s development through the establishment of the special economic zone with competitive incentive packages to attract international investors.
“We also welcome the government’s commitment to reduce bureaucracy including providing incentives to local authorities that facilitate the implementation of approved investments to ensure investment efforts can be accelerated,” he added.