Orientation towards transparency fortifies M’sia-France bilateral ties: Envoy

01 May 2019 / 10:39 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The orientation of the new Malaysian government which favours transparency, fighting against corruption and good economic environment has encouraged Malaysia-France bilateral relations to expand.

French Ambassador to Malaysia Frederic Laplanche (pix) said pursuant to such ‘climate’, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has positively impacted the bilateral trade, whereby more French investors are coming and setting up their investments here.

“The new Malaysian economic environment is now more attractive for foreign investors in particular. It is good to see that the economic dimension between the two nations and specifically the FDI flow of French investments into Malaysia has been good, to date.

“From what I have seen over the past few months, there was a good influx of new French foreign investments into Malaysia that goes into different sectors. The figures for the trade relationship between Malaysia and France has also been very positive and dynamic.”

He noted that Malaysia’s exports to France increased by 11.4% last year while France’s export to Malaysia grew at 3.4%, leaving a surplus in favour of Malaysia.

Laplanche said this to Bernama International News Service in an interview on several bilateral matters in conjunction with the one-year rule of the new Malaysian government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition. The coalition made history when it became the government of the day after winning the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9, last year.

Elaborating further, Laplanche pointed out that one of the traditional areas of French foreign investments was in the aerospace industry, which was clearly evident by the presence of a very strong French delegation during Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019 (Lima’19) in March.

Citing the latest number of new and concrete projects announced during the exhibition, he said it is a clear signal of the French government’s trust in Malaysia and of its commitment to the close relationship between Paris and Kuala Lumpur in the maritime and aerospace sectors, both military and civilian.

“Lima 2019 was a very successful exhibition which served as a platform for announcing new investment initiatives by French companies in Malaysia, new cooperation programmes between our Air Forces, and between our educational institutions.

“This defence and security cooperation, which actually started during the first mandate of Mahathir (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) as Prime Minister, now continues to be very strong and developing. The fact that we were present at Langkawi’s Lima 2019, and a lot of French companies too, are also a testimony to the closeness of our links, I am very happy that with this new government, and all these initiatives - we are all working closely and this cooperation will continue,” he said.

Together with France’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces Geneviève Darrieussecq, this year’s Lima exhibition saw big projects’ announcements, such as Dassault Aviation’s expansion to Malaysia through the acquisition of ExecuJet Malaysia’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Subang Airport.

This facility will grow to become Dassault’s regional MRO centre for Falcon aircraft fleet in Asia.

He added that Airbus has also announced the opening of a new regional completion and delivery centre for helicopters and the expansion of its training facilities to cover new types of helicopters, all at the same airport.

On the same note, Laplanche highlighted that although many new initiatives have been launched under the new PH government, he expressed hope that more potential areas could be explored – such as education, socio-culture, and climate change – between the two countries.

“Talking about the long-term investment for the future, the aspect of culture is important to us. For us in France, it is not only essential for our ability to innovate in all areas, but also be able to attract tourism.

“I also want to see more (promotion of) Malaysian culture in France, thus this is something that we are going to cooperate with the new government and do more in this area. We are currently working with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to move forward,” he said.

As the new government is showing a strong commitment to protecting the environment, Laplanche said the issue of climate change would certainly bring bilateral ties closer.

“It is the first time in Malaysia that we have a government where you have a Minister of Climate Change (Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change) as part of its team.

“It is not only symbolic, but there is something behind it ... there is a strong willingness, thus yes, this is about it,” he said.

France was among the first European countries to establish diplomatic ties with Malaysia in the early days after its independence in 1957. — Bernama

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