Malaysia is embarking on an ‘aggressive’ economic and government transformation that will be highly responsive to foreign investors’ needs, Prime Minister Najib Razak said to a gathering of over 600 industry leaders in South Korea this week.

The PM is on a three day working visit to promote investment opportunities in Malaysia, and his words have apparently been well received by South Korean business representatives. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint business council and are exploring the possibility of a free trade agreement, on top of South Korea’s existing FTA with ASEAN.

South Korea is Malaysia’s seventh-largest foreign investor, with a US$2.7 billion stake and 700 companies with operations there. Trade between the two countries has doubled over the past decade, and Malaysia would like to see it double again. Major Korean interests are advanced electronics, petroleum, minerals and fabricated metal, with Malaysia especially keen to develop the high tech relationship, including biotech and pharmaceuticals. The Malaysia-Korea Business Council identified green technology, automotive and pharmaceuticals as the sectors which would benefit most from Korean collaborations.

As an Asian country that has successfully made the leap from poor to wealthy developed status over a relatively short period of time, South Korea has particular appeal to Malaysia. It aims to replicate South Korea’s growth and become a ‘fully developed’ nation itself by 2020, building on strengths in similar technology and manufacturing industries.

sources: New Straits Times, Bernama