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Saturday April 7, 2012

Building a strategic tie

The Qinzhou Industrial Park will be a vital gateway for China’s exports to Malaysia and vice versa.

THE China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park is viewed as a gem in the all-time high Sino-Malaysia trade relations.

The park located in the Jingu River area near the Qinzhou port, about two hours’ drive from Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region’s capital of Nanning, will be developed in a joint-venture (JV) between Qinzhou Development (Malaysia) Consortium Sdn Bhd and Qinzhou Jingu Investment Co Ltd in the next 10 to 15 years.

The Malaysian consortium is led by the Rimbunan Hijau Group and the SP Setia Bhd Group.

To start, the basic infrastructure, residential, commercial and industrial buildings and facilities will be built in an area covering 7.87 sq km within three years.

The first phase covers an area of 15 sq km with future developments expanding to about 55 sq km.

The site has been levelled and construction of a building with a Minangkabau-inspired rooftop, to be turned into the JV company’s office, is almost half completed.

Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Guangdong chapter secretary-general Eng Kim Huat said the park would be a benchmark development that meant a lot to Sino-Malaysian trade and industrial relations.

Since the China-Asean Free Trade Area was established, there has not been any Malaysian industrial park in China.

“The location of Guangxi is quite central to Guangzhou and other parts of China. I think what is more important is to see how good the facilities are in Qinzhou itself rather than its location,” Eng said in an interview.

He said Malaysian investors hoped that the Qinzhou city government would be able to live up to expectations and provide excellent complementary infrastructure for the investors.

“If the government is to make this development a success, it must ensure that expatriates find the area livable.

“The manufacturing costs in cities like Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Foshan (in Guangdong province) have become very high. If this industrial park can provide good facilities, it will be good for Malaysian manufacturers to start up or shift their bases here,” he added.

The project was proposed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Malaysia in April last year. The Malaysian Government took the offer as Guangxi was fast becoming a vital gateway for China’s exports to Asean and vice versa.

The autonomous region, especially its Beibu Gulf area comprising Qinzhou, Fangcheng, Beihai and Nanning cities, have been designated by the Chinese government in 2006 as a new engine of growth.

Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin said with China and Malaysia collaborating in this maiden government-to-government development project, both countries would now deepen their ties not only as trading partners but as truly strategic partners.

“This kind of cooperation reflects well on the desire of the leaders of both countries and means that we are serious in promoting bilateral relations.

“It is a project that we should be proud of. It’s very important that all parties, including the governments and private sector, work together to make it a success,” he said.

As for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who had pushed hard for the speedy implementation of the project, it is a dream come true.

At the launch on April 1, Najib said the opening of the park in the next few years would mark the beginning of a new era of economic cooperation between both nations from which the next generation would benefit.

According to the Chinese statistics, bilateral trade between the two nations has reached almost US$100bil (RM305bil) and Malaysia has become China’s largest trading partner among Asean countries for three consecutive years.

The park is the first mega development project initiated by the Malaysian and Chinese governments. In the past, China has only entered two such development deals with Singapore in the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.

What is interesting is that soon after the Qinzhou park became a reality, China and Malaysia started exploring the possibility of building a sister industrial park in Kuantan, in tandem with the Qinzhou park.

Malaysia has offered China an area of 607.03ha at Gebeng town to be turned into the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park modeled around the one in Qinzhou.

Wen said developing a similar industrial park in Malaysia would inject vigour and vitality in the joint effort in pursuit of common development.

According to Prime Minister’s special envoy to China Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, who is charged with coordinating the project, the Qinzhou park will have a Malaysian flair.

The main road leading to the park will be named China-Malaysia Avenue and a permanent structure of the Twin Towers design has been erected at the square at the park’s entrance.

“We have taken a giant step forward. Next, the JV will come out with the master plan and start promoting and attracting investors from Malaysia, Asean and other countries,” Ong said.

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