China-Malaysia industrial parks to foster further joint cooperation

By YANG HAN in Hong Kong and ZHANG LI in Nanning (China Daily Global)

Updated: 2021-10-12

Print Mail   Large Medium Small

With economic and trade cooperation between China and Malaysia gaining momentum, Malaysian businessman Beh Hang Kong is brimming with hope for the future of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park.

"Ever since the launch of the 'two countries, twin parks' model, the cooperation between Malaysia and China has increasingly deepened," said Beh, vice-chairman of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (Guangxi) Development Co, a joint venture entity that has promoted the project.

The twin parks are the Qinzhou industrial park, launched in 2012 in the Qinzhou Port Area of the China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park in Malaysia's East Coast Economic Region in Kuantan, Pahang state.

Beh, who is also the director of the Malaysia-China Business Council, told China Daily that he is happy to see that Malaysia and China have formed mutually beneficial cooperation, which has provided opportunities for the industrial parks to grow.

China became the largest source of foreign direct investment in Malaysia in 2020. It has been Malaysia's biggest trade partner for 12 consecutive years, while Malaysia is a major trading partner for China among member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Mo Fuwen, deputy director-general of the administrative committee of the Qinzhou Port Area, said the total industrial output of the Qinzhou industrial park reached 7.4 billion yuan ($1.14 billion) in the first half of 2021, an increase of 41.5 percent over the same period last year.

Besides developing cross-border industrial chains for such things as rubber products and new energy vehicles, the Qinzhou park will also work to cultivate new economies and industries, including equipment manufacturing, biomedicine and big data, Mo said.

More investment

In Malaysia, the Kuantan industrial park presents a great investment window for Chinese businesses to venture into Malaysia and the ASEAN market, according to Edward Chong Sin Kiat, chief financial officer and managing director of IJM Land, a park shareholder.

"To date, the (Kuantan industrial park) has attracted 20 billion Malaysian ringgit ($4.78 billion) in investment and aims to create more than 10,000 local jobs," Chong said, adding that the investments will bring various benefits to the local economy.

Lim Ban Hong, Malaysia's deputy minister of international trade and industry, said during the China-ASEAN Expo on Sept 11 that he hopes more investors from both countries will invest in the twin parks.

Noting that the Kuantan industrial park is the first industrial park accorded national industrial park status in Malaysia, Baidzawi Che Mat, chief executive of the country's East Coast Economic Region Development Council, said many infrastructure projects have been completed to support the park's development.

These include expansion of the Kuantan Port as a deep-water terminal to accommodate vessels with capacity of up to 150,000 deadweight metric tons.

"The ongoing rail project will also further facilitate the flow of goods between the (East Coast Economic Region) and the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia," Baidzawi said at the China-ASEAN Expo.

Baidzawi was referring to the East Coast Rail Link, a major infrastructure project between China and Malaysia that will link Malaysia's less-developed east coast region to the economic heartland on the west coast.

Beh, the vice-chairman of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (Guangxi) Development Co, is continuing efforts to bring more Malaysian companies and products to the park in China.

Noting the rising popularity of Malaysian durian fruit among Chinese consumers, Beh said he has been working to establish a durian base or a "durian village" in the Qinzhou industrial park. The facility would not only be a distribution center for the fruit but also involve a whole industrial chain for processing durian-related products.

As for the sister park in Malaysia, Chong from IJM Land said he envisions the Kuantan industrial park as an investment gateway for the ASEAN region.

"Apart from its manufacturing focus, (the Kuantan park) is also set to become a leading logistics hub, driving import and export activities to a whole new level," Chong said.

For example, phase three of the Kuantan park is set to be transformed into an international logistics park, which will further promote the Kuantan region to become an economic center in ASEAN that effectively integrates export processing, international trade, cross-border e-commerce, warehouse logistics and financial settlement, Chong said.