Johor government and the Iskandar Regional Development Authority need to act fast to attract more foreign investors, says Iskandar Malaysia Johor Chamber of Commerce and Industry advisor Md Salikon Sarpin.
He said neighbouring countries were aggressively courting foreign investors.
He pointed out that competition would become more intense due to uncertainties following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The past two years have been rather quiet as there is not much news in relation to new investments by foreign companies.
“We hope the proactive measures outlined under Johor Budget 2022 will produce positive results,” said Md Salikon.
He said that while the manufacturing sector was still relevant to Iskandar Malaysia, it should move up the value chain.
“Manufacturers involved in labour-intensive activities should look to other countries which have a large pool of workers, as Malaysia’s manufacturing sector could no longer remain labour intensive.”
He said the Johor government should reduce red tape if it wanted to attract new investors and remain attractive to existing ones.
“Johor also needs to improve Internet connectivity and minimise disruption to power and water supplies,” he added.
Johor South SME advisor Teh Kee Sin said the pandemic had shown the old way of doing business was no longer applicable.
He said many businesses had temporarily ceased operations during the movement control order.
“Stabilising the government, simplifying business processes and procedures as well as efficient delivery system are important to attract foreign direct investment,” said Teh.
He said Johor was in a good position to get multinational corporations (MNCs) and China-based manufacturers to relocate their operations to Iskandar Malaysia.
“Asean countries also want to attract the MNCs and Chinese manufacturers, and Johor should not miss the boat,” he said.
He noted that Johor Baru’s proximity to Singapore was an added advantage.
“By investing here, they have the best of both worlds with Singapore as an international trade and financial centre while Malaysia offers competitive costs,” he added.
Teh said priority should be given to the new technology industries such as fintech, telecommunications, information technology, digital economy and e-commerce.
The state government through Johor Invest had allocated RM450,000 for the Johor Go Global programme to further promote Johor globally, and RM470,000 to engage with new and existing investors under Johor Budget 2020.
It had also allocated RM10mil for the Investment Facilitation Fund to improve the abilities and competitiveness of investors in various sectors.