MITI upbeat, trade mission to South Korea pulls in US$550m investment

SEOUL: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s 48-hour trade and investment mission to South Korea ended on a high note with Lotte Chemical Corporation giving its commitment to invest in Malaysia.

Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed today said Lotte Chemical Corporation, which had invested US$2 billion for its plants in Tanjung Langsat and Pasir Gudang in Johor, will now channel in another US$450 million to expand its operations in Johor.

“Their investment is meant to expand their plants, which now has the production capacity of 3 million tonnes of chemical, to an additional 500,000 tonnes. Their investment will see an increase of 20 per cent in capacity and effectively makes it one of their biggest operations outside of South Korea,” he said.

Mustapa added that from Lotte, two other leading South Korean companies have also given their letters of intent to set up their bases in Malaysia.

“Amorepacific Corporation, South Korea’s No.1 cosmetics company, will invest US$100 million in Malaysia. They have bought a piece of land spanning 25 acres in Nusajaya, Johor to make Malaysia their base and set up a manufacturing plant for their products to penetrate the Asean region and the Muslim market.

“Coway Co. Ltd, through a letter of intent, also stated their interest in producing its purifier in Malaysia, too,” Mustapa told the New Straits Times on the outcome of the mission, which was jointly organised with the Malaysian Investment and Development Authority (MIDA) and Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

Mustapa said the geopolitics of Malaysia, its stability and zero natural disaster risks, are the pull factors for South Korean companies to not only invest, but also make it a base for their businesses as a gateway to enter the Asean market.

Based on his numerous meetings with various local companies, Mustapa concluded that there were strong interests from South Koreans to venture in Malaysia.

“We are very welcoming of foreign investments and friendly towards South Korea as well as Japan. South Koreans like Malaysia and they are familiar with our country. They are comfortable with Malaysia’s economy on top of the help they receive from MIDA and the Malaysian government when it comes to investments.

“The Malaysian government is also very supportive of South Korean investments and it is a very important market to us. We also want to sell our products to them and at the same time, see more joint ventures between Malaysian and Korean companies,” added Mustapa.

Attracting South Korean’s small and medium enterprises was one of the main agenda of the mission where Mustapa held a round table meeting with more than 20 companies specialising in various sectors such as electrical and electronics, tourism, trading agriculture, medical device, and machinery and equipment.

During the meeting, Mustapa said Malaysia was interested in several of South Korean’s expertise.

“We are interested in the automation and robotics industries which South Korea has strength in. We want to improve productivity of Malaysian SMEs so we encourage partnerships and joint ventures between companies from both countries,” he said.

Mustapa also delivered a presentation at a seminar on ‘Business Opportunities in Malaysia’ to a crowd of 300 from the local business community.

He invited them to open up businesses in Malaysia saying that it is politically stable with strong economic fundamentals and excellent infrastructure, all of which makes Malaysia ideal for key strategic functions such as management and operational headquarters.

Mustapa touched on various topics such as Malaysia being an Asean hub and its connection to the world through 13 Free Trade Agreements, investment opportunities in Malaysia in the manufacturing and services industries, as well as Malaysia’s major exports and imports to South Korea in 2016.

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