VGR Chandran is an Associate Professor in Industrial Development at the Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Economics and Administration at University of Malaya. He has also worked as Principal Analyst of Economic and Policy Studies with Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia. He holds a PhD in Economics and his research interests are mainly on innovation, technology development, regional development, trade and globalization that relate to industrial development. His field research covers sectors such as electrical and electronics, automotive, food, chemical, oil palm, machinery, iron and steel, ICT, and the newly emerging sector – renewable energy. He has extensive fieldwork experience covering the Asian region that includes countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, India, China, Thailand, and Malaysia. He has also worked as consultants for international organizations such as UNCTAD, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNEP, ERIA, OECD as well as governmental organizations in Malaysia.

Summary of Project

Regional Economic Corridors and Global Production Network: Avoiding the Middle Income Trap and Aiming for Inclusive Growth

The income convergence literatures largely discuss the economic development, particularly economic growth within the macro perspective, specifically using growth theory but lacking the dynamics of how policy intervention or the role of the state had features in achieving the growth convergence. And, of late, increasingly, countries are taking a broader approach to development – moving beyond the industrial district – agglomeration, localization and clustering or the original Marshallian industry district arguments – towards regional economic corridor development or even growth pole approach in an attempt to promote balanced regional development and social inclusiveness. Malaysia is no exception to this. Although the corridor approach is not entirely new – corridor as a spatial and urban planning has a long history – but interestingly, the Malaysian government in 2011 developed five (5) regional economic corridors as part of its economic transformation program initiative. The five corridors include: Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER); Johor Bahru and Iskandar Malaysia, Kuantan and East Coast Economic Region (ECER); Kuching and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE); and Kota Kinabalu and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC)

Apart from achieving economic success, the economic development corridor approach also aims to address the urban-rural disparities, as well as inter-regional development divide. As such, it does not only have economic relevance, but also aims to promote inclusiveness. It is less clear how this dual aim can be achieved, including whether it is possible to use FDI strategies to address the issues of inclusiveness.

The study will be exploratory in nature and will use the qualitative approach. The study depends on interviews and case studies to investigate the above questions.  Interviews are mainly with the policy makers, including state authorities and selected firms. The study uses one of the corridors as a case study to illustrate the choice, limits and challenges as well as to examine how regional corridor is able/unable to achieve its objectives.