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Malaysia eyes UAE investment.

Summary: DUBAI AiA[logical not] Top Malaysian officials are on a mission to attract Middle East investment in five key economic clusters. MalaysiaAiis East Coast Economic Region (ECER) senior officials led by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak will attend AiAInvest Malaysia 2011Aii forum in Abu Dhabi today.

DUBAI AiA[logical not] Top Malaysian officials are on a mission to attract Middle East investment in five key economic clusters. MalaysiaAiis East Coast Economic Region (ECER) senior officials led by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak will attend AiAInvest Malaysia 2011Aii forum in Abu Dhabi today.

The first of its kind AiAInvest Malaysia 2011Aii conference is aimed at the Gulf Cooperation CouncilAiis corporate leaders and investors, which will feature an insiderAiis perspective of the business potential and investment opportunities within Malaysia, including its economic corridors.

The ECER, which has attracted $12 billion (RM36.5 billion) in international and domestic investments since 2007 until 2010, is also featured in the special report to be launched on the sidelines of the conference.

The report was produced by UAE-based media company Focus International in cooperation with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and is the first of its kind to target the six GCC states.

The Malaysian delegation just concluded its second investment mission in Saudi Arabia in an effort to attract more investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

AiAThe ECER has set an ambitious investment target of RM5 billion ($1.6 billion) in five economic clusters and it expects to attract up to RM3 billion ($971 million) investment from the Middle East, Datuk Issace John, CEO of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council, told Khaleej Times in a recent interview.

AiAOur annual target for investments is RM5 billion from all over the world, of which RM2-3 billion would come from the Middle East. That is a very humble estimate from our side,AiA he said. Datuk Jebasingam Issace John will also be a panel speaker at the AiAInvest Malaysia 2011Aii forum.

AiAFollowing the footsteps of our successful mission to both countries in May last year, this upcoming trip is crucial as it gives the ECER the chance to seal several business opportunities with companies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,AiA said Issace John.

He said ECER delegates will be conducting several business meetings with potential investors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE, as well as Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE is MalaysiaAiis major trading partner from the Middle East in 2009, dominating 43.31 per cent of MalaysiaAiis exports to the Middle East. Two-way trade between Malaysia and UAE expanded more than three-fold over the last decade from $1.16 billion in 2000 to $4.59 billion in 2009.

Opportunities in key sectors

AiAThe ECER is the region to look out for in terms of investment opportunities, especially in the areas of tourism, halal industry manufacturing, oil, gas and petrochemical, agriculture and education, among others,AiA he said.

AiAWe are glad to note that Middle Eastern investors are very comfortable with Malaysia as we share many similarities in culture and customs,AiA he added.

Recently, the ECER hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for $202.6 million (RM620 million) project involving Dubai-based Oilfields Supply Center Limited to set up a multifunctional common user supply base at ECER Special Economic Zone which is expected to be ready for operations by 2013.

He said ECER is in talks with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar to identify potential projects for investment in the region and some of these deals may be concluded by this year.

He added that ECER has abundant land, which could fulfill the needs of Middle East countries that are looking for their food security programme.

For Saudi Arabia, Malaysia is one of the selected countries for the kingdomAiis Food Security Initiative, which is backed by an investment fund amounting SR3 billion. Trade between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia grew to RM6.8 billion in 2009 from RM3.6 billion in 2000, making Saudi Arabia MalaysiaAiis second largest trading partner in the West Asian region after the United Arab Emirates.

Incentives to investors

AiAThe ECER is offering an integrated package to investors, comprising both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives. These incentives are specially tailored to investors who are venturing into the key ECER clusters.AiA

The ECER of Malaysia, which covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor, is a rapidly transforming region that is steadily positioning itself as a distinctive, dynamic and competitive destination for investments.

Geographically, ECER covers a total area of over 66,000 square kilometres or 51 per cent of Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to some 3.9 million people, or about 14 per cent of the total national population. AiAAmong others, ECER fiscal incentives include income tax exemption of 10 years, Investment Tax Allowance of 100 per cent on qualifying expenditure, and sales tax exemption.AiA

AiACustomised incentives are also given to companies based on the merit of each case. Non-fiscal incentives include competitive land pricing encompassing discount rate for land premium, quit rent and land assessment, guaranteed land lease periods for a specific time period and flexibility in the employment of expatriates.AiA

The ECER also ensures that human capital requirements are met. Training is provided to manpower, which can meet the investorsAii human capital needs. In addition, funds can be repatriated back to the Middle East, Issace John said. AiAThe ECERAiis halal parks are also attractive to investors as they are closely linked to the development of livestock, agriculture and manufacturing projects in the region. This is fueled by a combination of easy access to raw materials from nearby areas, solid supporting 
industries and good physical infrastructure.

AiAMalaysiaAiis halal industry has the competitive edge as the halal certification issued by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia is strongly recognised worldwide.AiA

Potential in education and medical tourism

Datuk Isaace John said education is another new area for investments. There are already many Middle Eastern students coming to Malaysia to study. The ECER offers a Knowledge Park in Terengganu, which can cater to this need and weA Vd like to see colleges and international universities to set up their campuses here.

AiARather than pursuing their further education in the West, students from the GCC countries can opt to study in Malaysia at a fraction of the cost,AiA 
he noted.

AiAIn addition, medical tourism is an upcoming industry. Medical facilities and services are cheaper than in Europe and Middle Easterners can tap into this while enjoying quality healthcare.AiA

This is ECERAiis second trip to the Middle East, following its previous visit last May. The economic growth in the ECER will be driven by five key clusters of economic activities namely tourism, oil & gas, manufacturing, agriculture and education. These clusters will be supported by the developments in social and human capital, transportation, infrastructure, property, and environment.

muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Jan 29, 2011
Words:1175
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