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Opportunities eyed as park gets upgrade

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

Updated: 2022-09-22

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China, Malaysia renew cooperation as region hopes to tap into RCEP

China and Malaysia upgraded their cooperation on an industrial park project on Saturday as the two countries eye more opportunities with the full implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

As the "Two Countries, Twin Parks "project between China and Malaysia enters its 10th year, Lim Ban Hong, deputy minister of international trade and industry of Malaysia, said he believes the RCEP can bring new opportunities, partners and industries to further accelerate the project's development and explore collaboration beyond Southeast Asia.

Two Countries, Twin Parks is a flagship project of national-level investment collaboration and a key project that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park in Guangxi opened in 2012 and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park opened a year later in Malaysia.

Speaking at the Forum on Further Development of China-Malaysia Two Countries, Twin Parks, Lim said economic and trade relations between China and Malaysia remained stable, with China being Malaysia's biggest trading partner since 2009 and accounting for 18.9 percent of the latter's total trade last year. The value of bilateral trade was forecast to exceed $190 billion this year, he said.

Under the theme "Building Cross-Border Industrial Chains Together and Share New Growth Opportunities under RCEP", the forum invited officials and business leaders to discuss key topics on China-Malaysia collaboration, including upgrading joint work relating to the industrial park, advancing version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, and promoting free and convenient trade and investment.

The forum was held on the sidelines of the 19th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Lim said China is Malaysia's biggest source of foreign direct investment and Malaysia welcomes more high-quality companies from China to invest in Malaysia. He also said he hopes the two sides can jointly make the Two Countries, Twin Parks project a model for international cooperation.

"Two Countries, Twin Parks is poised to tap on vast opportunities the RCEP can offer by forming a complete industry supply chain between Malaysia and China through the twin parks, and connected via the sister ports of Kuantan Port and Qinzhou Port," said Baidzawi Che Mat, chief executive of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council of Malaysia, where the Kuantan industrial park is located.

Attracting investments

Baidzawi said the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park has attracted a total of about 30 billion ringgit ($6.3 billion) of committed investments. The East Coast Rail Link, expected to be fully operational by 2027, will also be a game changer in enabling efficient transport of people and goods, he said.

Xu Xianhui, vice-governor of the Guangxi government, said the region is working to contribute to the joint building of the BRI and the China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

Wu Xuefeng, commissioner of the Special Office of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce in Nanning, said China is willing to work with Malaysia to promote the upgrade and development of the Two Countries, Twin Parks project under the backdrop of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and the RCEP.

Azlimi Zakaria, the consul-general of Malaysia in Nanning, said the twin parks initiative has provided jobs and business opportunities for locals in retail, port-related services, and commerce. "Both parks should continue to evolve and be more integrated," Azlimi said, adding that they can simplify the recognition procedures of products and focus more on developing infrastructure and logistics to enhance connectivity and cross-border capacity.