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GEORGE TOWN: InvestPenang is optimistic on Penang’s recovery post-Covid-19, driven by the state’s steady gross domestic product (GDP) growth despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

CEO Datuk Loo Lee Lian said the state’s GDP was growing at an average of 5.0% annually from 2016 to 2019; however, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected economic performance nationwide.

“Penang’s 2020 target under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) was RM95.5 billion. The state’s actual GDP was affected but not by much, recording RM92.6 billion last year.

“Against this backdrop, Penang’s manufacturing sector grew 2.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2020 compared with 2.7% in 2019, which helped to cushion negative growth experienced in other sectors during the same period,” she told Bernama.

Despite disruptions from the pandemic, she said, Penang’s export performance has been steady and resilient, recording 7.0% growth y-o-y in 2020 and 16% growth y-o-y for the January–July 2021 period.

She said the materialisation of strategic investment projects that Penang has attracted over the past two years, coupled with a healthy pipeline of investment enquiries, also helped to fuel InvestPenang’s upbeat sentiment on the state’s economic prospects.

Under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), Penang is projected to register an average annual growth rate of 5.4% for the 2021-2025 period compared with 3.5% during the 11MP.

In order to achieve the projection, she said, the most critical focus for 2022 is the return to normalcy for businesses as well as sustaining competitiveness.

Among strategies that the state is looking at is maintaining and developing infrastructure to enhance the ease of doing business, she said.

“On top of its Penang Connectivity Master Plan, the state has a healthy pipeline of industrial land development to provide a robust network for the needs of investors in the Industry 4.0 era.

“Other strategies include enhancing Penang’s position in the global supply chain and focusing on high value-added activities in semiconductor, electrical and electronics, machinery and equipment as well as medical devices,” she said.

Loo said the state government is also looking at encouraging multinational companies to localise their supply chain and provide facilitation services in business matching, which is part of its efforts to elevate small and medium-sized enterprise development.

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