Passport-free travel between Malaysia and Singapore on the cards

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (right) and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong (left) witnessing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ). The MoU was signed by Economic Minister Rafizi Ramli (second from right) and Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong (second from left). — THOMAS YONG/The Star

JOHOR BARU: Malaysia and Singapore are looking into implementing passport-free QR code clearance at their land checkpoints to support the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ).

In a joint statement after signing the JS-SEZ memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday, Economic Minister Rafizi Ramli and Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said the two countries are exploring several initiatives as they work towards the economic zone.

“The initiatives include the implementation of a passport-free QR code clearance system on both sides, adopting digitised processes for cargo clearance at the land checkpoints, and co-organising an investor forum to gather feedback from Singapore and Malaysian businesses on the SEZ,” they said.

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“Other initiatives include 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.

“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 added

They said these early initiatives demonstrate the collaborative spirit between both sides and mutual interest in the JS-SEZ to drive economic growth.

“The JS-SEZ rides on the strong growth of Johor and significant investments in the region by Singapore.

“Johor recorded RM70.6bil worth of investments in 2022 alone across various sectors, including electrical and electronics, medical equipment, food manufacturing and data centres.

“Singapore was Johor’s second largest foreign investor from January to June 2022 and contributed to around 70% of the state’s total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the manufacturing sector.

“Under the MOU, Malaysia and Singapore will work towards enhancing cross-border flows of goods and people as well as strengthening the business eco-system within JS-SEZ to support investments,” they said, adding the two countries have agreed to work towards the full-fledged agreement of the JS-SEZ during their 11th Leaders’ Retreat this year.

The MOU signing comes just two months after the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat in October last year.

Meanwhile, state Investment, Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Lee Ting Han said that Malaysia and Singapore will carry out a detailed study on the development of the JS-SEZ through a joint committee.

“This includes looking into the initiatives and policies under the JS-SEZ and the size of the economic zone.

“The agreement is expected to be finalised in the fourth quarter of this year, and we hope that it could be implemented starting next year,” he said, adding that the JS-SEZ will provide more business and work opportunities for Johoreans.

Johor Economic, Tourism and Cultural Office (Jetco) chairman Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad said the JS-SEZ will further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

“I am also happy to see green energy and sustainability development as the focus of the economic zone.

“I look forward to seeing the development of these two areas and hope they will bring new economic growth to Johor,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Badrul Hisham Kassim said that the JS-SEZ will improve economic cooperation by leveraging on the existing investment momentum.

“The formation and realisation of this zone will no doubt bring massive opportunities and advantages to Iskandar Malaysia as an investment destination for foreign and domestic investors and businesses.

“This zone, plus the Special Financial Zone in Forest City will not only contribute towards the region’s new cumulative investment target of RM636bil by 2030 but will have a major spillover effect on the holistic development in Iskandar Malaysia,” he said.

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