Malaysia's Johor eyes Shenzhen-style hub with Singapore, report says

Downtown Johor Bahru skyline from Singapore. (Photo: Aparna Nori/Bloomberg)
Downtown Johor Bahru skyline from Singapore. (Photo: Aparna Nori/Bloomberg)

By Ram Anand and Anuradha Raghu

(Bloomberg) — Malaysia’s Johor state is proposing its economic and petrochemical hubs as the sites for a special zone with neighbour Singapore, as it aims to become the “Shenzhen of Southeast Asia,” according to a report in the Star.

The suggested area will comprise Iskandar Malaysia and Pengerang on the east coast of the state, Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi was cited as saying at the state assembly on Sunday. If approved, the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone would be nearly twice the size of China’s Shenzhen at 3,505 square kilometres.

Both countries had agreed in January to set up the zone, and Malaysia plans to finalise and sign a pact by the end of year, according to Onn Hafiz. Official engagements with Singapore on the economic zone is expected to begin in June, he added.

The special economic zone could turn Johor into Southeast Asia’s Shenzhen, the report cited Onn Hafiz as saying, noting the similarities between the geographical makeup of the regions. Johor is also proposing 16 economic sectors as part of the zone, including electrical and electronics, manufacturing, healthcare and tourism, he said.

Iskandar Malaysia is a 2,217 square kilometre economic corridor established in 2006 which covers most of Johor’s strategic infrastructure and real estate projects. That includes the Johor Bahru city center and Country Garden’s struggling $100 billion megacity Forest City.

Pengerang is home to the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex, a major petrochemical facility that includes the Pengerang Energy Complex being developed by Singapore’s ChemOne Holdings Pte.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.