KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 (Bernama) -- French businessmen will continue to look at Malaysia as a strategic manufacturing and trading hub for the South East Asia region.
This is because of its conducive environment for business and government incentives that promotes foreign investment in the country, Malaysian French Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Robert Jaimond said Thursday.
Last year investment from France grew by 12 percent year on year and he expects investment this year to grow significantly.
"Most of the French businessmen in Malaysia are from the small and medium scale industries except for building materials manufacturer, Lafarge who is the main French investor in Malaysia," he said at the Malaysia-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon here.
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said in her opening address at the business luncheon that approved investments from France for the period 2002 to October 2003 were mainly in machinery manufacturing (RM57 million), non-metallic mineral products (RM24 million), textiles and textile products (RM14.7 million), transport equipment (RM6.4 million) and food manufacuturing (RM5 million).
There are an estimated 160 French companies in Malaysia employing more than 22,000 Malaysians and approximately 350 French expatriates.
The breakdown of French companies operating in Malaysia is 50 percent trading companies, 35 percent services companies and 15 percent manufacturing companies.
Total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from France to Malaysia is now at about RM6.1 billion, Rafidah said adding that France is Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner in the European Union.
Last year, France accounted for 1.63 percent of Malaysia's global trade, comprising 1.74 percent exports and 1.49 percent imports.
Malaysia is France's second largest trading partner in Asean after Singapore.
She said during the year 2003, Malaysia's exports to France increased to RM6.66 billion from RM2.75 billion (2000).
France ranks as the 15th largest export market and it accounted for 3.08 percent of Malaysia's total exports of rubber products and 2.79 percent of total Electrical and Electronics exports.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"