French, S.Korea firms in Malaysia biotech tie-up

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French chemical producer ARKEMA and South Korea's CJ CheilJedang will invest 2 billion ringgit ($667 million) to develop an animal feed plant in Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced Friday.

The ten-year investment in northeastern Terengganu state will generate 20 billion ringgit of sales by 2020 and create 500 jobs, Najib said at the Malaysian government headquarters in Putrajaya, near the capital Kuala Lumpur.

"This project will be a significant economic boost to the region and... will further stimulate the growth of the industrial biotechnology sector," he told reporters.

The plant will produce bio-methionine, a sulphur amino acid widely used in animal feed in Asia, a statement on the project said.

Najib, who took office in 2009, has launched a push to make Malaysia a "high-income" country by 2020 that has included efforts to lure investment from abroad and develop high-tech industries.

The plant, expected to be operational by 2013, is part of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), one of several development corridors set up to drive economic growth and narrow income disparities between Malaysia's various regions.

Government officials said Friday the ECER, which provides incentives for investment, has received 48 billion ringgit in such investments since it was set up in 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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