By Manik Mehta
FRANKFURT, March 27 (Bernama) -- A senior Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) official, who has undertaken a whirlwind tour of several countries to highlight investment opportunities to local companies in Malaysia's hospitality and healthcare sectors, has been making several head-ways including at his stop here in Germany.
Shahrul Shahabudin, director and head of MIDA's healthcare, education and hospitality division, who arrived in Frankfurt after visiting Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, spoke to Bernama of the progress and potential ahead from his tours.
"I met some potential investors in these countries. For instance, in Dubai, I met representatives of a leading hotel group which already manages a hotel in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Another group, also in Dubai, is interested in setting up a global-management school," Shahrul explained in an interview with Bernama at the MIDA office in Frankfurt.
A leading healthcare organisation based in Abu Dhabi has shown interest in setting up a hospital in Kuala Lumpur and its representatives are already holding talks on such a project with their Malaysian counterparts.
Without revealing the name of a German healthcare group, which is in a 'delicate stage' in its talks with its Malaysian counterparts to set up a hospital in Malaysia, Shahrul said that he had met executives of the German healthcare group.
Shahrul who had travelled to Munich and London from Frankfurt said he had also met representatives of a German hotel group in Munich which is interested in setting up a technical training centre in Malaysia.
Malaysia's tourism sector has been identified as one of the major contributors to the nation's economic development.
In 2016, according to MIDA, tourism was the second highest contributor of foreign exchange earnings amounting to RM82.1 billion.
Indeed, tourism is one of the 12 so-called National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) which are expected to elevate Malaysia to becoming the high-income nation status by 2020. Given its expertise in investment promotion, MIDA is considered best suited to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into the hospitality and healthcare sectors, the last-named also providing a strong impetus to medical tourism.
MIDA's Frankfurt director, Yusri Hasnan Chu, who has been promoting Malaysia as a 'world-class profit centre', said that Malaysia had all the attributes of a strategic manufacturing hub with a fine distribution network in the region.
MIDA Frankfurt's jurisdiction covers Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; according to Yusri, projects approved from his jurisdiction amounted to RM4.8 billion in 2017.
Germany and the Netherlands were the biggest FDI providers.
"We exceeded the target of RM2.5 billion set for the Frankfurt office for 2017 and reached RM4.8 billion for the year," he added.
Yusri discerns keen interest among Europeans to invest in the ASEAN region; Malaysia with its central location within ASEAN region provides access to ASEAN's collective population of 580 million people that generate robust demand.
MIDA's Frankfurt office is also expecting more visits from its headquarters.
After Shahrul Shahabuddin's just-concluded visit, MIDA's chairman is expected to visit Germany in April followed by a delegation from its machinery and metals division focusing on robotics, automation and specialised machinery.
The visits will coincide with the Hannover Industrial Fair, which is touted by its organisers as the 'world's biggest industrial show'.
Also on the cards is MIDA's participation in the German-Asian Business Dialogue which will be held on April 18 in Berlin. Other subsequent MIDA sector-specific missions will focus on chemical and advanced materials in June, building technology and lifestyle in August, electronics and electrical in October and a MITI mission in November.
Meanwhile, MIDA Frankfurt initiated a joint effort with other investment promotion agencies of ASEAN member countries to promote investments in the ASEAN region. This collaborative effort led to creating the 'ASEAN Investment Forum' held in Frankfurt in April 2016 hosted by MIDA.
This year, MIDA will again coordinate with other ASEAN members and organise the event sometime in May or June 2018.
This joint effort is aimed at highlighting the synergies and benefits which the unified ASEAN market offers to European investing companies.
Malaysia is endeavouring with other ASEAN member states to assist industry players in embracing Industry 4.0 through the adoption of automation and smart manufacturing.
In line with the current megatrends, Malaysia has embraced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0 ? the smart manufacturing which combines automation and digitalisation. Connectivity is core to driving industry 4.0 revolution.
Under the 11th Malaysian Plan, 3 + 2 sub-sectors mainly - 3 catalytic sub-sectors, namely chemicals, electrical and electronics and M&E industries; and two sub-sectors of high potential growth, namely aerospace and medical devices, have been identified to drive the growth of the manufacturing sector.
The targeted sub-sectors in the services sector include information and communication technology, oil and gas services, green technology and renewable energy, healthcare, technical higher education, eco-tourism, halal industry and professional services.
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