SPANISH businesses are keen to invest in Malaysia and have expressed keen interest in broad sectors, including the high-speed rail project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Spain’s investments in Malaysia, although small, still totalled a significant US$2.5 billion (RM8.2 billion) through Acerinox and Tecnicas Reunidas.
This, he said, had lifted Spain’s profile in Malaysia.
“The flow of investments from Spain marks a diversification in the volume of quality investments we are targeting for in Europe,” he said at a forum on investment opportunities, here, yesterday.
Germany, Britain and France are traditionally the main sources of foreign direct investments to Malaysia.
For the first half of this year, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority has approved US$64.8 million in investments from manufacturing projects.
Mustapa is leading the biggest high-powered delegation to Spain, which included state investment
officials as well as senior officials from DRB-HICOM Bhd and Mara Aerospace & Technologies Sdn Bhd.
Mustapa, who co-chaired the forum that was attended by captains of industry, including in automotive, renewable energy, steel industry and biotechnology, said the Spanish presence was in the engineering, stainless steel and IT solutions sectors.
The flow of Spanish investments into Malaysia was started by Tecnidas Reunidas when it won a US$1.5 billion contract from Petronas for the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development project in Pengerang, Johor, while Acerinox’s Bahru Stainless Steel Sdn Bhd in Johor involved an investment of US$852 million.
There are 18 Spanish regional establishments located in Malaysia, including Scytl and Elevadores Goian.
Meanwhile, Spanish firms are keen to participate in the US$14 billion 350km high-speed rail project.
Officials briefed Mustapa on the Spanish experience when he visited the Madrid Atocha Station.
Spain is currently working closely with Singapore’s local transportation authorities on engineering collaboration and has offered to do the same with Malaysia.
Its Secretary of State for Trade, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, also highlighted the success of a Spanish consortium in undertaking a high-speed rail project linking Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Garcia-Legaz, in his bilateral meeting with Mustapa, said the current US$1.05 billion trade volume between Spain and Malaysia was low, necessitating the need to remove obstacles by way of the Malaysia-European Union Free Trade Agreement.