08 FEBRUARY 2021, BY
Penang Port's NBCT gazetted as a free commercial zone

KUALA LUMPUR: Penang Port Sdn Bhd will be a focal point for shipping and transshipment activities following the gazettement of the North Butterworth Container Terminal (NBCT) as a free commercial zone (FCZ) on Feb 1, 2021.

In a statement today, the port operator said the FCZ operations will commence on March 2021 and this will put Penang on the world map as NBCT will be able to cater activities such as high-tech warehousing and logistics facilities.

"This will spearhead the positive economic growth in the Northern region of Malaysia. With the establishment of FCZ in NBCT, foreign companies will be able to use the facilities before exporting their product overseas," said Penang Port.

Penang Port, which is a member of the MMC Group, will also benefit in the long run through customs' duty, excise duty, sales and service tax exemption except for certain goods.

The local workforce and port operations will be much more efficient once the facilities are upgraded, with new technologies that will be implemented and introduced to cater foreign investors.

The process of obtaining the FCZ status for Penang Port was an uphill task since 2007 as the gazettement of NBCT involved 10 lots of land covering the total area of 83.57 hectares.

Penang Port Commission (PPC) and Penang Port had revisited the plan to gazette the entire NBCT in 2018 by requesting approval and support from Penang State Economic Planning Unit.

NBCT is one of the main terminals of Penang Port with a core container operation service dating back to 1974, with the first container discharged at Butterworth Wharves.

Penang Port will capitalise on the newly found status to tap into the Bay of Bengal market by undertaking transshipment activities for containers moving between the Bay of Bengal and the Far-East.

Penang Port would also plan to link-up feeder operators in Bay of Bengal with mainline operators in the near future.

"The FCZ will attract more traffic to NBCT and this will increase job opportunities which are very much needed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The port could leverage on the FCZ status to entice investors around the world to conduct value-added activities such as break-bulking, grading, repackaging, relabeling, transit and re-export."

Penang Port had also achieved a one million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs) in 2010 compared to 516 TEUs when it started in 1973.

As of 2021, Penang Port has grown steadily to achieve a throughput of more than 1.5 million TEUs.
Before the NBCT T1 project, the total berth capacity was at 2.1 million TEUs.

Upon completion of the T1 project, the overall capacity increased to 2.3 million TEUs.

The increase of 200,000 TEUs will oversee the surge of berth utilisation and reduce the vessel waiting time to berth.

Penang Port is one of the oldest and established port in Malaysia and serves as the primary gateway to the Northern region of Malaysia and Southern Thailand, serving the basins of the Straits of Malacca and the Gulf of Bengal.