Iskandar Malaysia has attracted investments worth a combined 133 billion ringgit (S$51 billion) as of January this year, some eight years after it was established.
According to the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), a statutory body tasked with driving development in the region, 35 per cent of that investment is from foreign countries, of which Singapore accounts for 24 per cent.
About three years ago, Singapore manufacturer HPH Technologies expanded into Iskandar Malaysia to address the issues of space constraint and labour shortage in Singapore.
The company manufactures components to support security-related and semiconductor equipment industries.
It currently has two factories in the economic zone, set up at a cost of S$15 million.
HPH said it has seen business revenue double since its expansion there and reaped 30 per cent savings in labour cost.
The company hires about 130 workers in total, of which 70 are located in Iskandar Malaysia. It also plans to boost its headcount by some 30 per cent by the end of the year.
Its managing director, Lim Hak Poh, welcomed the recent announcement that Singapore will help Malaysia upgrade its vocational training.
He said: “The problem here is (skilled) manpower and our industry needs skilled manpower.
“If we can reach out to the secondary schools across Malaysia, offer them (students) training and apprenticeship, and… bring them to the Singapore companies operating in Iskandar, that would encourage a lot of Singapore companies to move here.”
As of January this year, nearly 47 billion ringgit — about 35 per cent of total investments in Iskandar Malaysia — is from foreign countries.
“Singapore has been for a while now the largest source of investments in Iskandar Malaysia — 11 billion ringgit or S$4.2 billion — primarily in areas of broad manufacturing sectors, education, healthcare as well as property,” said Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of IRDA.
Mr Ismail said manufacturing forms the backbone of Iskandar Malaysia and the state of Johor’s economy.
He added that development plans will focus on sectors like electronics, petrochemical and food processing. IRDA said the manufacturing sector received 47.8 billion ringgit worth of investments as of January 2014.
“We would like to see… the manufacturing sector (continue) to be in the higher level of the manufacturing value chain, and we want world-class manufacturing,” said Mr Ismail.
“We are actually targeting the technology-intensive kind of manufacturing facilities that are not totally dependent on low-cost labour industries.”
Apart from the manufacturing sector, Mr Ismail said Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia can also work together in areas including environmental management, and arts and culture.
Source : Channel News Asia | April 9, 2014