South Korea wants FTA with Malaysia, says Muhyiddin
UPDATED @ 11:38:59 AM 13-06-2012
SEOUL, June 13 — South Korea has proposed for a dedicated free trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
He said the suggestion was made by South Korea Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik to enhance and boost bilateral trade between the two trading nations.
“Even though South Korea has many trade and investment linkages through the Asean FTA, they feel a dedicated Malaysia-South Korea FTA will be better.
“It will enable South Korea to complement whatever existing facilities, be they in the form of market taxes and market access because Malaysia promises a huge potential for the republic,” he told reporters after calling on Kim and meeting 18 captains of industry here.
Muhyiddin said he had agreed in principle to Kim’s suggestion but a final decision would be made next month.
Currently, South Korea does not have a trade agreement with Malaysia, except the joint FTA with Asean, encompassing all the 10 members in the regional grouping.
Muhyiddin said South Korea sees Malaysia as a potential nation to expand its market not only bilaterally but also for third country market access whether through Asean or around Southeast Asia.
“They (South Koreans) see Malaysia has a country with vast potential given the stable economy and Malaysia’s open economy policy.
“In fact, they also make comparisons with China where the costs have escalated sharply whilst in Malaysia, the costs are quite stable. This is an attraction and a plus factor to investors from that country,” he said.
Muhyiddin said following his meeting with owners of multinationals from South Korea, RM3 billion worth of new investments would flow into Malaysia over the next few years.
Muhyiddin said the Hana Group was planning to make a “huge investment” in the banking and insurance services sector in Malaysia. He said a decision would be made soon.
“In my meeting with South Korean captains of industry, almost all of them have invested (in Malaysia) and expressed interest to increase their existing investments in Malaysia.
“For instance, Kiswire, a major copper wire producer in South Korea, will make a RM1.8 billion fresh investment over the next few years,” he said.
Muhyiddin, who was instrumental in bringing the company to Malaysia when he was Johor mentri besar, has been given the honour to declare open Kiswire’s research and development centre in Johor Baharu next month.
“At that meeting, the investors did not raise any problems except on electricity supply in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).
“South Korean companies are keen to invest in Score, but they asked the federal government to negotiate with the state government to give an assurance for an undisrupted electricity supply at a competitive price,” he said.
Muhyiddin then instructed the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to help Korean companies wanting to invest in Score.
He said some Korean companies are also scouting for Malaysian partners and the government would give attention to that through several capital joint-venture companies.
Muhyiddin is on a two-day working visit to South Korea. — Bernama