Hong Kong will join Malaysia in developing an economic hub in southern Johor, near the Singapore border, as Malaysia looks to tap the land development potential near the site of an upcoming cross-border rail link, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Malaysia’s MRT Corp. and Hong Kong’s MTR Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop a six-acre land for mixed use in Bukit Chagar on Friday.

The development, worth 3 billion ringgit ($660 million), will come up less than one kilometer from the Malaysia-Singapore border. The location is also the site of the under-construction Bukit Chagar terminus station that’s part of the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System, according to the report.

“The intended mixed development is expected to transform the area into an attractive investor destination, for local and international investors,” MRT Corp.’s Chief Executive Officer Mohd Zarif Hashim reportedly said at a briefing.

The RTS project, which is expected to serve up to 10,000 commuters per hour in every direction, is due for completion in 2026. The project is also expected to ease traffic congestion at Malaysia and Singapore’s land border crossing, one of the world’s busiest. The four kilometer transit has two stations — Bukit Chagar in Johor and Woodlands in Singapore.

The news came amid Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee’s visit to Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia during his week-long Asean trip. Lee was in Singapore and Indonesia earlier of the week. Hong Kong and Singapore have signed seven agreements on improving cooperation and trade during Lee’s visit to the city-state. The memoranda of understanding (MoU), signed at a business dinner in Singapore on Monday evening, cover trade, financial services, fintech, innovation and technology, and research collaboration, Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Hong Kong and Indonesia have also signed 15 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on Wednesday during a visit to the nation Lee reportedly said closer ties with Asean countries would create new opportunities as the city battled economic headwinds, South China Morning Post reported.

Hong Kong and Malaysia signed 11 MoUs, including the one involving MTR Corporation.

According to Lee, Hong Kong and Malaysia enjoy close and longstanding ties in trade and investment.

“In 2022, our bilateral trade in goods grow by 7% year-on-year to reach $28.1 billion, making Malaysia our ninth-largest trading partner and the third-largest among ASEAN Member States. As a conduit for trade with Mainland China, some 9% of trade between Malaysia and Mainland China was routed through Hong Kong in the same year,” Lee wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Featured photo credits: John Lee’s Facebook Page

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