An alternative maritime route

Mustapa (left)) reading the book ‘Simposium Invest Iskandar Malaysia 2017’ presented to him by Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief Datuk Ismail Ibrahim at the Invest Iskandar Malaysia Symposium in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia will not experience an immediate effect if the long-envisioned Kra Canal project in Thailand takes place, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

While he did not deny that Malaysia and Singapore could be adversely affected if the canal is built, Mustapa did not see it happening in the near future.

“We have been talking about this for the past 40 to 50 years, people keep reviving the issue every now and then.

“If it (the implementation) happens, it is going to be a long time and by that time Asean countries would be even more closely integrated,” he told reporters after presenting a keynote address at the Invest Iskandar Malaysia Symposium 2017 here last Tuesday.

The Kra Canal – also known as the Kra Isthmus Canal or the Thai Canal – is a proposed canal spanning 102 kilometres that would connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea.

It would function as an alternative to the current maritime trade route that passed through Singapore and the Straits of Malacca.

A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia lecturer from the political science faculty had on Monday published a commentary piece in Sinar Harian on how Malaysia would suffer greater than Singapore if the Kra Canal project was implement.

However, on Sept 29, Thai Ambassador to Malaysia Damrong Kraikruan was reported saying that studies concluded that the canal was not feasible and the return on investment was not attractive enough to go ahead with the plan.

In a separate matter, Mustapa also said that opportunities of Intra-Asean investments in Malaysia should be promoted especially in Asean countries.

“We would have to do more promotion in some parts of Asean, as there is lack of awareness.

“Asean has been looking outside the region for investors but Malaysia has been investing quite a bit in Asean such as our banks,” he added.

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