Malaysia’s ECER Eyes GCC Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —

Malaysia’s East Coast Economic Region (ECER) senior officials will embark on their second investment mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia from Jan 26 to Feb 6 in an effort to attract more investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to come to the region.

The mission is also held in conjunction with the launch of “Invest Malaysia 2011” special report and forum in Abu Dhabi on January 30, which will be jointly officiated by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak is also the Chairman of the ECER Development Council (ECERDC), the statutory body entrusted by the Malaysian government to oversee the development and project implementation in ECER Malaysia.

The first of its kind, “Invest Malaysia 2011” report is aimed at the Gulf Cooperation Council’s corporate leaders and investors, which will feature an insider’s perspective of the business potential and investment opportunities within Malaysia, including its economic corridors.

The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Malaysia, which has attracted US$12 billion (RM36.5 billion) in international and domestic investments since 2007 until 2010, is featured in the special report. ECERDC CEO, Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, will also be a panel speaker at the “Invest Malaysia 2011” forum.

“Following 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,” said Dato’ Issace.

He said ECERDC 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.

“ECER Malaysia 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,” he said.

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

Recently, the ECER hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for US$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 kingdom’s Food Security Initiative, which is backed by an investment fund amounting 3 billion Saudi Riyal.

“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.

“Among 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.

“Customised 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.”

The ECER also ensures that human capital requirements are met. Training is provided to manpower which can meet the investors’ human capital needs. In addition, funds can be repatriated back to the Middle East, said the CEO.

“The ECER’s 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.

“Malaysia’s halal industry has the competitive edge as the halal certification issued by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia is strongly recognised worldwide.”

He 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 we’d like to see colleges and international universities to set up their campuses here.

“Rather 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,” he noted.

“In 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.”

This is ECERDC’s second trip to the Middle East, following its previous visit last May.

The UAE is Malaysia’s major trading partner from the Middle East in 2009, dominating 43.31 per cent of Malaysia’s exports to the Middle East.

Two-way trade between Malaysia and UAE expanded more than three-fold over the last decade from US$1.16 billion in 2000 to US$4.59 billion in 2009.

Meanwhile, trade between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia grew to RM6.8 billion in 2009 from RM3.6 billion in 2000, making Saudi Arabia Malaysia’s second largest trading partner in the West Asian region after the United Arab Emirates.


The East Coast Economic Region (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 or 51% of Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to some 3.9 million people, or about 14% of the total national population.

In line with its vision, it has become ECER’s mission to eradicate hardcore poverty within the region, generate higher household incomes for its population through sustainable livelihoods, and increase job and entrepreneurial opportunities resulting from investment projects planned for the Region.

The economic growth in the region 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.