Cut in car import duties

The Star, February 28, 2013

By Daniel Khoo

PUTRAJAYA: The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) will announce an eventual cut in car import duties from Japan and Australia in a press conference today.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the cuts in these duties would happen “over the next three to four years”.

“As you know, there are three types of duties on cars: the import duty, the excise duty and the sales tax - these are the taxes we have.

“Cars which come from Asean are imported duty-free (such as) the cars coming from Thailand now have zero import duty,” Mustapa told reporters at the InvestKL press briefing yesterday.

“We have two trade agreements which are going to materialise in the next three to four years - Australia and Japan. Import duties (including cars and other items) coming from these countries will be zero come 2016. We will definitely prepare our local automotive industry to face this landscape and the expected increase in competition intensity,” he said.

On another note, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Pemandu chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who also spoke at the briefing, said the KL-Singapore high speed rail (HSR) would consist of two services - the express city-to-city and transit service.

“The express service will immediately connect Kuala Lumpur directly to Singapore, while the other, the hop-step-jump transit service, will connect smaller towns such as Muar and Batu Pahat along the way.

“If you want to go slow, then you may take the transit service but this service will also catalyse the (economic) growth of these towns. The express service will improve direct connectivity (timing) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore,” he said.

Idris elaborated that the KL-Singapore HSR had the potential to see the connectivity between its cities flourish in a similar manner as how the London-Paris HSR has done.

He added that the main aim was for the HSR to eventually be built to connect Penang and Bangkok and to China's HSR network connecting to its capital city Beijing.

“Our view is that the cities that are connected to this HSR network will move at a much faster rate and see higher growth economically - this is why we need to begin this process with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Mustapa said the study for the construction of the HSR was now being handled by a joint Malaysian-Singaporean team.

Meanwhile, the InvestKL team, headed by chief executive officer Zainal Amanshah, said it was in talks with five multinational companies to possibly set up their operations or headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Zainal said InvestKL's aim was to get 10 to 12 companies this year and 100 MNCs by the year 2020 to set up their operations in Kuala Lumpur.

He added that Greater-KL, which currently contributes 30% of the country's gross national income with a population of almost six million people, would see higher growth potential with more MNCs, moving forward.