BY ZAZALI MUSA
JOHOR BARU: European Union (EU) countries are eyeing business and investment opportunities in Iskandar Malaysia as the country’s first economic growth corridor offers good growth prospects.
Ambassador and head of the EU delegation to Malaysia Maria Castillo Fernandez said the progress and development taking place in Iskandar Malaysia was testimonial that it was moving in the right direction.
She said Iskandar Malaysia’s close proximity to Singapore was an added advantage for the economic growth corridor to attract investors and companies from the EU to invest in the region.
“We want to have a first-hand look in terms of economic and business prospects and opportunities in Iskandar Malaysia,’’ Castillo Fernandez said after attending a roundtable discussion at the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) here.
She believed Iskandar Malaysia offers a fair playing field for investors from the EU as demonstrated in the investments in the region by EU investors.
Castillo Fernandez was leading the EU delegation on a three-day trade mission to Johor from May 17-19, with 11 EU ambassadors in Malaysia.
They are Daniel Dargent from Belgium, Rudolf Hykl (Czeh Republic), Nicolai Ruge (Denmark), Petri Puhakka (Finland), Florence Mayol-Dupont (France), Holger Michael (Germany), Attila Kali (Hungary), Eamon Hickey (Ireland), Marius Blachowicz (Poland), Constantin Volodea Nistor (Romania) and Carlos Dominquez Diaz (Spain).
The mission will include an audience with Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar and a meeting with Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
“We are looking at a bigger picture and the EU companies can access Malaysia and Singapore as platform to penetrate into Asean and countries in the region,’’ she said.
Irda chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said Asean, with a population of 600 million, offers good prospects for the EU companies and like the grouping, Asean is also one of the single largest markets in the world.
He said Iskandar Malaysia welcomes investments from all over the world and does not segregate them according to their countries of origin.
“We are the choice location for foreign investors especially those that are looking at establishing or enhancing their regional presence,” said Ismail.
He said investors were already seeing the potential and this was reflected in the exceeded target by achieving a cumulative investment of RM227.67bil from 2006 up to March 31, 2017.
Ismail said out of this latest figure, RM13.67bil was from EU investments with the top five investors being Spain with RM4.18bil, Germany (RM2.77bil), Netherlands (RM1.89bil), France (RM1.63bil), UK (RM1.07bil) and others with RM2.12bil.
“We are not depending on any particular country or region to attract investors to Iskandar Malaysia as it is rather risky to put all your eggs into one basket,’’ he added.
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