JOHOR BARU: The Johor government and Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) must act quickly to attract more investors from China to Iskandar Malaysia.
Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin said Johor was in a good position to attract more multinational corporations (MNCs) and China-based manufacturing companies to relocate their operations to the economic growth corridor.
He said those investors were contemplating moving part of or even their entire operations to countries in South-East Asia.
“Asean countries want to attract the MNCs and Chinese manufacturers; Johor should not miss the boat,” said Teh.
He said China was no longer a cheap place for manufacturing activities unlike a decade ago when many MNCs from all over the world relocated their operations there.
He cited Johor Baru’s proximity to Singapore as an added advantage in attracting MNCs not only from China but from all over the world to invest in Iskandar Malaysia.
“By investing here, they have Singapore as an international trade and financial centre and enjoy competitive cost in Malaysia,” he added.
Teh said Johor and Irda must be more aggressive and proactive to attract foreign investors as other countries were aggressively courting the MNCs.
Irda chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said they did not specifically segregate investor-centric strategies into foreign and domestic.
Irda used value proposition strategies and incentives instead to attract investors, he said.
“By not discriminating between foreign and domestic investors, Iskandar Malaysia can avoid being dependent on just a select few,” he explained.
Ismail said while the manufacturing sector was still relevant to Iskandar Malaysia, it had to move up the value chain as the country’s manufacturing sector could no longer remain labour intensive.
He said Irda would also focus on education, health, tourism, services and oil and gas (O&G) sectors.
“We are looking at attracting more O&G investors in the
next few years as Pengerang in Kota Tinggi is now part of Greater Iskandar Malaysia,” he added.In February, the Federal Government doubled the size of the economic growth corridor to 4,749sq km from 2,217sq km previously to include parts of Kluang in central Johor, Kota Tinggi in the east and Pontian in the west.
“We received RM293bil in total cumulative investments from 2006 until March this year, with 56% or RM166bil implemented,” Ismail said.
He said local investors had to-date contributed 62% to the total cumulative committed investments in the economic corridor.
He said China, Singapore, the United States, Japan and Spain were the top five countries with the highest cumulative committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia.
Johor International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse said statistics released by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) showed that Johor attracted RM1.7bil in investments in the first six months of 2018.
“From July to December last year, the investments approved by Mida for Johor increased to RM28.8bil in the space of six months,” he said.
Puah said a majority of the investments came from the manufacturing and petrochemical sectors, adding that Johor remained the leading investment destination in the country.
Selangor is in second place with RM18.9bil and Sarawak third with RM8.6bil.