SINGAPORE: During a visit from Johor Chief Minister Onn Hafiz Ghazi at the headquarters of UOB in Singapore on Monday (July 1), the bank’s CEO Wee Ee Cheong said that the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will benefit many companies in both Singapore and Malaysia.

The public first heard about the joint special economic zone on Oct 30, 2023, just before the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat, attended by then-Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

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“The JS-SEZ will tap into the complementary strengths of both countries to foster economic connectivity by improving cross-border flows of goods, investments, and people,” said both leaders in a statement issued after the retreat.

The two men met again in January when the memorandum of understanding for the SEZ was signed.

As for UOB, the visit paid by Johor’s Chief Minister was part of the bank’s endeavours to grow the collaboration under the special economic zone.

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Mr Wee said that the SEZ will create opportunities for the whole supply chain while boosting economic ties between both countries.

“With UOB’s extensive regional network, enhanced platform capabilities, and sector expertise, we are well positioned to support business growth in Singapore, Malaysia, and across the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, UOB Malaysia CEO Ng Wei Wei said, “Leveraging UOB Group’s strong regional connectivity, I am confident that we are able to contribute meaningfully to the development of the JS-SEZ.

We will continue to collaborate with the Johor state government and key stakeholders to drive investments and trade into the country.”

UOB also held a roundtable discussion between the delegation from Johor and representatives from companies and several business organizations, including the Singapore Business Federation, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, and the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The Chief Minister said that he believes the JS-SEZ “will definitely bring a new economic dimension to the region, like the success story of Shenzhen metropolis.”

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He added that he shared what the state needs during the roundtable discussion, as well as “listened to views from the Singaporean delegation regarding the issue of skilled workforce, the readiness of utility and infrastructure, the connectivity of public transport networks in Johor, as well as the ease of going in and out at the border gates.” /TISG

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