New Straits Times - - News -

Hol­lande’s visit will be punc­tu­ated with high-pro­file events, in­clud­ing a re­stricted meet­ing on bi­lat­eral ties with Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak, a state ban­quet hosted by the Yang diPer­tuan Agong and a con­fer­ence with lead­ing French en­trepreneurs.

It will also see Malaysian ac­tress Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh con­ferred with France’s high­est state award — the Com­man­deur in the Na­tional or­der of Lé­gion d’Hon­neur. The French en­tourage will con­sist of 170 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four cab­i­net mem­bers in charge of de­fence, cul­ture, in­dus­try and de­vel­op­ment.

Penot said France aimed to di­ver­sify its in­ter­est in Malaysia as a key part­ner in South­east Asia.

Malaysia will be the sec­ond Asean coun­try, af­ter Sin­ga­pore, that Hol­lande will visit dur­ing his three-na­tion tour in the re­gion.

“The em­pha­sis will be on trade, in­vest­ment and de­fence.

“For trade and in­vest­ment, we ex­pect to sign a num­ber of bi­lat­eral agree­ments, which are mainly busi­ness-to-busi­ness be­tween (Malaysian) and our (French) com­pa­nies. France has in­creased its trade and eco­nomic foot­print in Malaysia in the past 10 years. Malaysia is a pop­u­lar mar­ket for us as it pro­vides an ex­cel­lent mar­ket en­vi­ron­ment for for­eign com­pa­nies.”

Out of the top 40 French com­pa­nies listed un­der the main French in­dex of NYSE Euronext stock ex­change, 30 had been es­tab­lished in Malaysia in joint ven­tures with lo­cal part­ners. No­table ones are Air­bus, Bouygues, L’Oréal, LVMH, Peu­geot-Citroën, Schneider Elec­tric and Tech­nip.

On de­fence, Penot said Malaysia and France en­joyed firm co­op­er­a­tion in in­dus­trial re­la­tions, as seen in the ad­vance­ment of sub­ma­rine tech­nol­ogy and train­ing, which saw the Royal Malaysian Navy emerg­ing as one of the most com­pe­tent naval arms in un­der­wa­ter war­fare.

The lat­est pur­chase of four Air­bus A400M At­las tac­ti­cal air­lifters by Malaysia showed the coun­try’s proac­tive stance in mil­i­tary aero­nau­tics.

Penot de­scribed Malaysia-France ties as a “gen­uine” part­ner­ship, as seen in the shar­ing of tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise, rather than based solely on mu­tual perks of trade.

He said France was also look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity of form­ing a tighter in­tel­li­gence net­work with Malaysia.

Christophe Penot

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