Korean-led projects helped shape Malaysian landscape, says Najib

SEOUL: Korea’s engineering prowess had helped to shape what Malaysia is today, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.Addressing the "Investment Seminar on Business Opportunities in Malaysia" here on Tuesday, April 5, he cited the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the Penang Bridge as among the big Korean-led projects which influenced Malaysia’s landscape for the better.

One of the Twin Towers was built by Samsung back in 1998 and the other by Mitsubishi of Japan."I have to be honest here and say that Samsung’s was completed first, not just on time but actually ahead of schedule," he said at the seminar which was jointly organised by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

In fact, the 13.5 km Penang Bridge which was symbol of Malaysia’s economic progress when it was completed in 1985, was built with passion, vision and a huge amount of expertise by a Korean company, Hyundai, with current South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak at the helm as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) back then, Najib pointed out.

Najib, currently on an official visit to South Korea, said Malaysia was proud of the ties that bonded the two countries, having celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year.

"During that time, a lot has changed for both of us. Korea has grown to become a titan of global manufacturing, creating world-leading products for the international export market. For our part, Malaysia has focused more on foreign direct investment to drive industrialisation - with FDI in Malaysia now growing amongst the fastest in the world in recent trends," he said.

As such, he said, Malaysia could learn much from Korea’s way of achieving developed status, as the latter had done in 50 years what the West did in 200 years.

He said the establishment of the Malaysia-Korea Business Council would open up yet another channel for strategic collaboration between the private sector of both countries.

Currently, Malaysia is home to more than 300 Korean companies, including Samsung, Kiswire, Hyundai and Posco.
As one of the largest investors, Korea is the driving force behind almost 300 manufacturing projects which have created over 40,000 jobs, Najib said.

Najib also told the seminar that bilateral trade between both countries had doubled over the past 10 years and that he and President Lee in their earlier meetings had agreed to doubling it within the next five years.

He said they both also believed that more should be done to leverage the Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement that came into force at the beginning of last year, under which bilateral trade between Asean and South Korea is expected to
surge to US$150 billion by 2015.

"But there is still more we need to do. That is why we have agreed to explore the feasibility of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement whereby officials from both sides would be meeting soon to take the proposal forward,"
he added.

South Korea is Malaysia's sixth largest trading partner with bilateral trade amounting RM52.90 billion in 2010. Najib also said Malaysia was serious about its pivotal reforms and under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), it has identified 131 entry point projects worth US$444 billion to accelerate private sector participation and generate the country's target economic growth of 6.0 per cent per annum.

"All 131 projects will be implemented over the next 10 years with the fifth round of ETP implementation to be announced when I return to Kuala Lumpur."

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and South Korea’s Minister of Knowledge Economy, Choi Joong-Kyung, were also present at the seminar.--Bernama

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