France wants to make Malaysia its Southeast Asian industrial base for defence.
French Defence minister Herve Morin, in Malaysia to attend the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition 2009, said France wanted to make Malaysia a regional military supplier, similar to the role Brazil plays for them in South America.
He said France’s cooperation with Malaysia in the field of armaments would encompass transfer of technology, offset programmes and joint ventures.
He said such a partnership would be the main prospect for France to create an industrial platform in Malaysia capable of serving the rest of the region.
Morin said Malaysia was chosen because of its long-term partnership with France.
“The political will in Malaysia is very clear — it wants to become a big industrial country, with the technical capacity to cope with international competition.
“Malaysia already has agreements with Thales, EADS and DCNS. And what we do with them, we can also do with those companies in that sector in your country.
“Malaysia is already building parts for aircraft and helicopters. We could do it in all areas,” he said.
Malaysian Defence minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, when asked at a press conference later to elaborate on what was discussed between Morin and himself, said the country already had a dedicated defence/security zone in Sungkai, Perak.
“The 493-hectare facility will be home to a number of high-technology companies. The French defence minister is taking our offer to the French industry. The set-up will be more on research and development and on offset programmes. We are looking for partners.”
Zahid added that several companies had expressed interest in investing, notably EADS and Thales of France, ITT of the United States, and Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo of South Korea.
Zahid estimated that 10,000 new jobs would be created when the zone was up and running.