France looks to double trade with Malaysia

8th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (AFP) - France aims to double trade with Malaysia in three years and use the country as a springboard to tap Southeast Asia's fast growing markets, France's External Trade Minister Francois Loos said Tuesday.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (AFP) - France aims to double trade with Malaysia in three years and use the country as a springboard to tap Southeast Asia's fast growing markets, France's External Trade Minister Francois Loos said Tuesday.

At the same time, Loos, wrapping up a two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur, urged the Malaysian government to strengthen intellectual property laws to tackle the problem of piracy.

The French minister said trade relations between the two countries have been given a shot in the arm with Monday's launch of the Malaysia-France Business Council in Kuala Lumpur.

"This council is the visible part of the will we have to mutually be each other's hub in our regions - Malaysia as France's entry point to ASEAN and France as Malaysia's hub to Europe," he told AFP.

"Malaysia counts among the 25 target countries in which the development of the French economic presence is deemed crucial for the future of the French economy ... in three years, we aim to double (bilateral) trade."

According to French figures, bilateral trade amounted to EUR 2.3 billion (USD 1.8 billion) last year. France is Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner within the EU and its 16th largest trading partner in the world.

French exports are mainly electronic components and equipment, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. Malaysian exports focus on electronic components, the bulk of which is re-exported to the rest of Europe, chemicals, electronic equipments and household goods.

Malaysia's robust economic growth, political stability, strong regulatory system and business friendly policies make it an attractive investment destination but Loos called for more measures to safeguard intellectual property rights.

"Counterfeiting is a concern for many companies, especially in countries moving into higher value-added quality products, products that are branded. Intellectual property must be defended ... you have to make stronger punishment and enforcement laws," he said.

He said he raised the issue in talks with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other ministers, and was told Malaysia was preparing to table a new law in parliament soon to strengthen regulations.

Some 180 French companies operate in Malaysia including telecommunications giant Alcatel, cement-maker Lafarge and oil and gas engineering firm Technip.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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