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Malaysia, Singapore to finalise terms for special economic zone in October
Published on: Thursday, September 14, 2023
By: Malay Mail
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Malaysia, Singapore to finalise terms for special economic zone in October
Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi says the terms-of-reference will be discussed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at the Leaders Retreat in Singapore scheduled in October. (Bernama pic)
ISKANDAR PUTERI: Malaysia and Singapore are expected to finalise the Terms of Reference (ToR) on the proposed Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) following discussions between the country’s leaders next month.

Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi said the ToR will be discussed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at the Leaders Retreat in Singapore scheduled in October.

He said he was elated by the latest development as the Johor-Singapore SEZ will continue to strengthen the good relationship between the neighbours for mutual prosperity and progress.

“Johor and Singapore will cooperate closely and complement each other for the good of the people in both countries,” he said in his reply to Andrew Chen Kah Eng (PH-Stulang) who had asked about the current status of Johor-Singapore SEZ during the one-day state assembly sitting held at Bangunan Sultan Ismail in Kota Iskandar here today.

It is understood that the ToR will involve development tasks and the timeframe for the Johor-Singapore SEZ.

Onn Hafiz (BN-Machap) explained that the proposal for the Johor-Singapore SEZ was agreed by Malaysia and Singapore during the 16th Malaysia-Singapore Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMCIM) held in Singapore last July 14.

He said both countries had agreed to create a special task force to study the establishment of the Johor-Singapore SEZ and had been discussed since the end of last year.

Onn Hafiz said the Johor-Singapore SEZ has the potential to turn Johor into Shenzhen in China, which is now a thriving city four decades after it was made an SEZ.

He said Shenzhen transformed from a small town with a population of 300,000 into a high-tech international metropolis with over 17 million inhabitants.

“In just four decades, Shenzhen’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 exceeded three trillion yuan (more than US$400 billion) while it has become the third largest city in China.

“What Shenzhen in China achieved also proves that the Johor-Singapore SEZ can provide the best results for Johor,” he said, adding that such an initiative will require the assistance and cooperation from all parties, including the federal and Singapore governments.

Anwar had announced on August 25 that the government had designated the mega Forest City project as a special financial zone to spur the economy in south Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia.

Among the incentives proposed were for allowing for multiple entry visas, fast tracking entry for those working from Singapore and a flat income tax rate of 15 per cent for knowledge workers.

The prime minister said that Johor’s location was unique as it was next to Singapore and instead of competing, Malaysia and the island republic could instead complement each other.

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