June 09, 2005

Malaysia Welcomes France Investment In Biotech

From Jamaluddin Muhammad

PARIS, June 9 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Thursday called on French scientists and investors to participate in the development of Malaysia's bio-technology sector.
He said France with its biotechnological expertise could venture into Malaysia's Bio-Valley project, a dedicated zone for biotech industries located within the Multimedia Super Corridor.
Developing biotechnology in food and agriculture, pharmaceutical, biodiagnostics and bio-active components for healthcare are some of the potential areas, he told a group of French businessmen during a luncheon here.
The luncheon was organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris at the Palais de Congress de Paris, a convention centre, here.
French investors could also get involved in the halal food industry as Malaysia is moving towards becoming a regional halal food hub, he said.
Islamic banking and finance too could be ventured by them as Malaysia is seen as one of the world's most advanced players in the area.
Najib also urged French investors to use Malaysia as its gateway into the Asean market, a market of 530 million people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$750 billion (US$1=RM3.80)
Malaysia should be the French investors' choice considering a high competitiveness rating and with costs of doing business relatively low compared with some of Malaysia's neighbours.
Furthermore, Malaysia's current economic standing as well as considering the government's incentives for foreign companies operating in Malaysia, it would be good business sense to use Malaysia as a gateway into Asean market, he said.
Bilateral trade between France and Malaysia expanded by 12.2 percent to US$3.3 billion last year.
Malaysia's export to France stood at US$1.9 billion, an increase of 6.1 percent while Malaysia's imports surged by 21 percent to a total of US$1.5 billion.
The bilateral trade covered chemical and chemical products, rubber products, electronics, scientific equipment, machinery and manufacturing products.
Najib said 170 French companies have invested in Malaysia in chemical and chemical products, machinery manufacturing, electronics, electrical goods, food production and textile products sectors.
Later Najib held a dialogue with them and among other things he touched on Malaysia's investment and economic climate, security issues and currency control measures.
During a press conference with the Malaysian media, Najib said many French firms have shown interest to invest in Malaysia following some French companies' success stories in Malaysia.
On the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), Najib said efforts would be made to resuscitate development projects in the area.
Some projects had to be abandoned before because of the security situation, for example in southern Thailand, he said.
However, he could not provide the details of the abandoned projects or new projects to take place.

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