Five more ports in Malaysia and China are set to join the alliance of such facilities between the two countries, bringing the total number in the partnership to 21.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the new additions were Kemaman Port, Sabah Ports Authority and Kuching Port Authority, as well as China’s Tianjin Port and Qingdao Port.
“We will have a more comprehensive collaboration because we now have ports in the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak in the alliance with Chinese ports,” he said.
Liow, who is also MCA president, was speaking to reporters after the second annual meeting of the alliance, at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Monday.
Also at the launch of the two-day conference were Port Klang Authority chairman Kong Cho Ha and China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang.
The port alliance was forged in November 2015 during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Malaysia.
It is aimed at promoting technology and knowledge transfer from the bigger ports to the local port industry on port technology, container processing and speeding up processes by reducing red tape.
Liow said that Malaysia aspired to be the logistics hub for the South-East Asia region and was keen on improving its infrastructure to increase its cargo-handling capacity.
He said the authorities were expanding key ports, mainly Port Klang, to facilitate an anticipated increase in the number of vessels in the future, as well as recreational ports for cruise lines.
“The ministry is also planning to open the Melaka Gateway for docking and maintenance of cruise ships. Currently, only Penang Port has the facilities for this,” he added.
Liow said Malaysia was strengthening its infrastructure to bring in goods from southern Thailand and Sumatra, Indonesia.
On the worries of over-capacity, he said that although transshipment volumes have dipped slightly, local production and exports have increased.
“Some shipping lines changed their port destinations to Singapore and other parts of the region but we can see strong growth in Malaysia as there is a lot of output. This is a good sign,” he said.
In his speech earlier, Liow said that China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009, with trade between both countries reaching RM240.91 billion (US$56.47 billion) last year.