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Saudis keen to work with Malaysia on food security programme

ECER

Bernama | May 13, 2010

From Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah

RIYADH, May 13 (Bernama) -- Saudi Arabia is keen to collaborate with Malaysia to develop its food security programme, says adviser of Corridor Development Malaysia, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The former prime minister said Saudi Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Abdullah Al-Obaid, expressed this during their meeting here.

"Currently, they are talking to the Philippines, Vietnam, Turkey and Ukraine. They welcome the possibility to work with Malaysia," he told Bernama here Thursday.

Abdullah is leading the ECER Development Council's (ECERDC) investment mission to West Asia, including Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia from May 7-17.

The mission, a follow-up of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's earlier visit to Saudi Arabia in January, aims to attract investors as well as enhance bilateral business relationships with the West Asian nations.

Also present at the interview were ECERDC chief executive officer, Datuk Jebasingam Issace John, and Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of Malaysia and Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the OIC Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Associate Prof Datuk Syed Omar Al Saggaf.

The former PM said in his separate meetings with Dr Abdullah and Saudi Deputy Minister of Finance, Saad H.Al-Hamdan, they discussed potential agriculture projects to be promoted under Saudi Arabia's Private Investment Fund, which has an allocation of three billion riyal (100 riyal = RM82.84).

"There is a strong interest in the agricultural sector to address concerns of food security. This is seen as an immediate requirement that can be fulfilled through the promotion of agriculture projects in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER)," he said.

Following this, Abdullah said, there would be quick follow-up discussions to pinpoint the potential activities in the ECER.

"One immediate area identified is livestock production and development," he said.

He said a company was keen to develop downstream polymer activities to complement existing facilities in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Brazil.

The company, he said, planned to set up a cracker plant for the polymer activities and thus, "we will identify specific interest and match with facilities promoted in the proximity of the Kertih Polymer Park, nestled within the Kertih-Cukai-Gebeng petrochemical hub".

During the meeting with Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Abdullah said, the Saudis said they were keen to identify Malaysian companies that could provide the know-how in the petrochemical sector.

Abdullah said the Saudi investors were keen to develop a two-way relationship.

"This will include identifying Malaysian companies that can be partners to develop the know-how in Saudi Arabia," he said.

He said another company was keen on mid-stream petrochemical activities, i.e. ethanol/fertilisers, methanol, methane, ammonia, polyethelene and polycarbonate.

Abdullah said the Council of Saudi Chambers has recommended that ECER be promoted by the Saudi Malaysia Friendship Society.

He said the council offered to introduce the potential investment opportunities to its 200,000 members.

"This also includes promotion of the ECER through its magazine and assistance in identification of contacts for the top 100 members that would be potential investors," he said.

Abdullah said there was close collaboration and mutual respect between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

"This can be seen through the strong interest by individuals and the government to explore opportunities in Malaysia in the ECER," he said.

On tourism, Abdullah said, the council said there was a lack of exposure on Malaysia in general and recommended that more promotions and information be sent to Saudi companies on investment opportunities in Malaysia.

"They said the current perception of Malaysia is only as a tourist destination," he said.

He said there was a strong potential to promote real estate development and tourist locations that could be developed by Saudi investors in the ECER.

Abdullah said the Saudis were interested in halal products, particulary food and non-food items.

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