Malaysia and Singapore to firm up SEZ deal at next Leaders Retreat

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to work towards a full-fledged agreement on the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) during the two countries' 11th Leaders Retreat later this year.

In a joint statement after inking the Johor-Singapore (JS-SEZ) memorandum of understanding (MoU) here Thursday (Jan 11), Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli and Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said the two countries would also provide an update on the SEZ during the retreat.

ALSO READ: Malaysia, Singapore ink historic Special Economic Zone MoU

"Under the MoU, Malaysia and Singapore will work towards enhancing cross-border flows of goods and people as well as strengthen the business ecosystem within SEZ to support investments.

"The SEZ rides on the strong growth of Johor and significant investments in the region by Singapore," they said.

The two ministers added that apart from the agreement, Malaysia and Singapore would also explore several other initiatives that would build towards the SEZ.

ALSO READ: Critical success factors for the Johor-S’pore SEZ

"This includes setting up a one-stop business and investment service centre in Johor to facilitate the application processes for various approvals and licences necessary for Singapore businesses to set up in the state.

"Other initiatives include implementing a passport-free QR code clearance system on both sides, adopting digitised processes for cargo clearance at the land checkpoints, and co-organising an investors forum to gather feedback from Singapore and Malaysia businesses on the SEZ.

"We will also look into curating training and work-based learning initiatives to address talent and skills gaps for relevant industries in the SEZ and developing joint promotion events between the two countries," they said.

ALSO READ: JS-SEZ set to spur demand for office space in Johor

They added that the early initiative demonstrated the collaborative spirit between both sides and mutual interest in the SEZ to drive economic growth.

They also noted that Malaysia and Singapore were each other’s second largest trading partners, with bilateral trade growing 18.9% year-on-year to S$153bil (RM534bil) in 2022.

"Singapore was also Malaysia’s top source of foreign direct investment (FDI), contributing 20.5% to Malaysia’s total FDI in 2022," they added.

Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the signing of the MoU between Rafizi and Gan.

The MoU signing came just two months after the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat in October.

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