KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are underway to see POIC Lahad Datu, located at Sabah’s east coast, becoming the state’s first Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Ginger Phoong Jin Zhe said the Finance Ministry had principally approved the application of POIC Lahad Datu to be declared as an FTZ.
In a statement here, Phoong said this was revealed during the roundtable meeting he co-chaired with the Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Liew Chin Tong at MIDA Sentral in Kuala Lumpur on Monday (March 20).
"The Finance Ministry has confirmed this .... More information will be released later on.
"I would like to extend my gratitude towards Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for approving the application and also to Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor for entrusting this important task to me.
"I believe that following this announcement, we will bring positive impact to Sabah's industrial development, especially on the east coast of Sabah," said Phoong.
Hajiji last year in September stated that the state government in principle agreed to support an FTZ declared in Lahad Datu as part of the five initiatives to spur the east coast’s economic progress.
Sabah Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Association president Foo Ngee Kee then in supporting such FTZs, said it would create more job opportunities and see the establishment of more SMEs, therefore reducing the unemployment rate in Sabah.
Foo said an increase in the manufacturing sector’s contribution towards the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income could also be expected.
At the same time, Sabah could leverage with the FTZ when meeting trade and export demands with neighbouring Kalimantan - which will house Indonesia’s new capital - as well as other nations in the BIMP-EAGA region, further suggesting considering another FTZ on the West coast of Sabah.