Malaysia, Singapore conduct feasibility study on SEZ, expected to sign MoU early next year – PM Lee
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 (Bernama) — Singapore and Malaysia are doing a feasibility study on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) ecosystem enhancement between both countries, to find out what should be the focus of the economic zone moving forward.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said both countries will then sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) based on the outcome of the study, which was hoped to be done by early next year.
“Preliminarily, I think there are three things you want to do (in the SEZ). Firstly, improving the flow of goods between the two sides because SEZ may mean special tax arrangements and bonded warehouses and and therefore, more easy border flows.
“Secondly, better and easier arrangements on the flow of people who have to work on both sides of the causeway. They can go in and out, and then the companies in the SEZ are able to get the personnel they need, the right mix of professionals, skilled workers and other general workers,” he said during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today.
Thirdly, he said, is for the SEZ to enhance the ecosystem of the Iskandar development region as well as Singapore.
“Within SEZ, it makes something meaningful for Iskandar (region) as a place where investors will be focusing their attention, which means for companies in Singapore, they can think of having a presence on both sides and therefore having more flexibility and being able to do things which they couldn’t do if they were only in Singapore or in Johor.
“So we have great hopes. But it’s a lot of work for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) (Singapore) and the Ministry of Economy on the Malaysian site. I think they will have to scramble but we would like to see it done as soon as we can,” he said.
During the joint press conference, both leaders have also expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing cooperation under the purview of the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) and welcomed the progress made by the respective Industrial Cooperation, Immigration, Transportation Links, Innovation, Tourism, and Environment Work Groups.
The leaders noted the establishment of a special task force under JMCIM to study a Johor-Singapore SEZ and noted the progress update provided by the taskforce at the retreat.
The JS-SEZ will tap into the complementary strengths of both countries to foster economic connectivity by improving cross-border flows of goods, investments and people.
The leaders also commended the Industrial Cooperation Work Group and agencies from both countries for working together closely to facilitate high-profile investments into and creating jobs in Iskandar Malaysia.
Singapore is the second largest foreign investor in Iskandar Malaysia with S$9.5 billion or RM33 billion worth of investments committed between 2006 and June 2023.
During a joint press conference in July this year, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli and Singapore’s National Development Minister Desmond Lee announced that both countries had agreed to set up a special task force to study the establishment of a Johor-Singapore SEZ.
Rafizi said the special task force will report its progress to the leaders when they meet at the upcoming Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat scheduled for October this year.
“We have a new administration in Malaysia and it yearns that we work as closely as possible with our partners in this region and around the world, (what more with) a partner with a shared heritage like Singapore,” said Rafizi.
He noted that Singapore and Johor have had much more connectivity over the last two to three decades, regardless of the politics between Singapore and Malaysia.