KUALA LUMPUR: Six memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in the areas of energy efficiency, solar power generation, as well as innovation and technology transfer were signed between Malaysian and French firms yesterday. The signing and exchange of the MoUs were witnessed by French President Francois Hollande, who is on a visit to Southeast Asia covering Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia from March 26 till 29. Total trade between Malaysia and France rose 6.3% to RM15.23 billion last year, with a total of 270 French companies in Malaysia investing in manufacturing, services and finance. Sime Darby and French group ENGIE signed two MoUs which will see them co-developing business opportunities in solar energy and high-end, integrated facilities management services. The first MoU is for the development of a joint venture in Malaysia to provide technical and facility management services in the field of energy efficiency of critical buildings like airports, hospitals, data centres and universities as well as high-end offices and hotels. The second MoU aims to explore business opportunities to develop large-scale solar PV power generation projects in Malaysia and within Southeast Asia. Under this MoU, the companies will provide reliable low-cost solar PV energy. Under the third MoU, Prestariang Bhd identified Thales Group as its main technology partner in the implementation of the proposed National Immigration Control System, an integrated technology platform aimed at delivering core applications and infrastructure of the national immigration and border control system. The fourth MoU is for the extension of cooperation between Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Electricite de France up till 2019. The two-year MoU will see both companies sharing experience and exchanging information on administration, management and technical aspects related to the energy sector. Air Liquide and InvestKL signed the fifth MoU, which will see the integration of Air Liquide into the local academic ecosystem to create a talent pipeline supporting the expected expansion of Air Liquide Business Services. The two parties will also explore potential technical and technological collaborations with other French and Malaysian startups or small-medium enterprises (SMEs). The sixth MoU was signed between Bpifrance and PlaTCOM Ventures Sdn Bhd to establish a platform for the promotion of collaborative projects between innovative French and Malaysian SMEs, including startups. Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who also witnessed the signing ceremony, said Hollande’s visit to Malaysia will attract more French companies to invest in Malaysia. “France is a country with advanced technology in several sectors including manufacturing. With good infrastructure and efficient administration, Malaysia will continue to gain attention from France,” he told reporters at the signing ceremony yesterday. On the high tax rate for palm oil exports to Europe, Mustapa said the issue will be discussed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and Hollande. Previously, France’s National Assembly rejected a motion to increase palm oil import tax but Mustapa stressed that the issue is an important topic as palm oil is a big contributor to Malaysia’s exports. “The important thing to have is engagement and I’m confident the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry will continue with efforts to improve the understanding of policymakers in Europe and also society, on the sustainable methods that we use in Malaysia,” he said.