JOHOR BARU: Johor-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from the developments taking place on Batam and Bintan islands off Indonesia’s Riau archipelago.
South Johor SME adviser Teh Kee Sin said the local SMEs could use both islands as the platform to penetrate the huge halal market of Malaysia’s neighbour.
He said Indonesia, with over 270.63 million people as of June this year and 87.2% Muslims, offered good business prospects and opportunities for Johor-based SMEs.
“Our SMEs should start forging a closer partnership with their counterparts in Batam and Bintan in order to venture into the greater halal market in Indonesia,’’ he said.
He added that Johor and Singapore would benefit from the efforts to develop Batam and Bintan islands in the coming years due to their close proximity with the Riau archipelago.
Teh said Johor’s competitive fees for professional medical services and care would attract more middle-class Indonesians seeking medical treatment at private hospitals in Johor Baru.
“The state government must make more efforts to position and promote Iskandar Malaysia as a medical tourism destination,’’ he added.
Johor Indian Business Organisation president P. Sivakumar said as Indonesia developed its connectivity, the SMEs in Johor were expected to gain from the economic growth in Batam and Bintan.
He said the developments and progress taking place on both islands would provide a wider market reach for products and services offered by Johor-based SMEs for Indonesian consumers.
“Our SMEs need new markets to grow their businesses and Batam and Bintan are the perfect gateway for them to expand their operations to Indonesia,’’ said Sivakumar.
He said Johor-based SMEs could consider setting up their operations as Indonesia wanted to position the islands as an alternative shipping and manufacturing hub to Singapore.
It was reported recently that Indonesia planned to start building its longest sea bridge next year to connect the two islands and boost trade with neighbouring countries.
The seven-kilometre bridge connecting Batam and Bintan costs RM859.8mil and the project is expected to be completed within three to four years. — By ZAZALI MUSA