Free Trade Zone among five initiatives to boost growth on Sabah's east coast

KOTA KINABALU: A Free Trade Zone in the Lahad Datu Industrial Park is among five initiatives to spur economic growth in Sabah's east coast that the state government has agreed in principle to support.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the initiatives were presented by the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) during a recent event.

“The other suggestions were to have a satellite biomass collection centre, an international airport in Lahad Datu, to set up a maritime academy, and build a health treatment centre at the POIC Lahad Datu commercial area," he said in a statement on Monday (Sept 5).

He said these initiatives are expected to benefit the people in Lahad Datu and Sabah as a whole, as well as boost economic growth and activities in the east coast.

“In principle, the state government supports and agrees to the implementation of these initiatives,” Hajiji said.

He did not elaborate, saying further planning was needed before the initiatives can be realised.

Hajiji, who recently officiated the POIC Lahad Datu Port and bulk tank facility operations in Lahad Datu, said the port had the potential to become a main transshipment hub in the region.

He said it was strategically located and could handle bulk cargo before it is sent on to China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

“With (its new) facilities and a natural sea depth of up to 20m, the POIC Lahad Datu port is actually among the best in the region,” he said.

POIC Lahad Datu was set up in 2005 to boost the palm oil industry, create job opportunities and give rise to satellite industries as it developed.

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