KUALA LUMPUR – Agreements on defence and agriculture will be signed during French President Francois Hollande’s state visit to Malaysia, says Foreign Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.
He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Hollande were scheduled to witness the sigining of the deals which included a defence-related agreement and another agreement on the establishment of a platform for ‘Sustainable Agriculture Landscapes in South East Asia’ tomorrow.
“Other topics of discussion that will be highlighted between the two leaders, among others, are cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and trade.
“Both leaders will also discuss existing cooperation between the two countries, as well as exploring potential avenues for future (cooperation),” he told a press conference at the Dewan Rakyat here today.
Reezal said the two-day visit, beginning tonight, was part of Hollande’s first visit to ASEAN, which also included his state visits to Singapore and Indonesia.
“This visit is very timely, as it also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and France,” he said, adding that this was also the second presidential-level visit from Paris to Kuala Lumpur after President Jacques Chirac’s state visit in July 2003.
On the Kuala Lumpur-Paris bilateral relations, Reezal pointed out that it was strong as the collaboration covered a broad range of areas namely defence, trade, investment, education and culture.
“The recent arrival of A400M transporter aircraft is significant as Malaysia is the first non-North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) country to be equipped with the aircraft.
“This reflects the strength of our bilateral relations,” he said.
It was reported that the fourth and final Airbus A400M military aircraft was officially delivered to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) by Airbus on March 22 as the first RMAF’s A400M was delivered to Malaysia in 2015.
Reezal said last year, the bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 6.3 per cent year-on-year to RM15.23 billion, and France was Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner within the European Union countries.
He said more than 60 per cent of Malaysia’s exports to France comprised electrical and electronic products, while the remainder included rubber products, machinery, chemicals and chemical products, textiles, clothing and footwear.
Reezal also revealed that out of 160 approved French investment projects in Malaysia, 117 manufacturing projects were implemented with a total investment of RM3.5 billion.
In terms of tourism, the deputy minister said 134,257 French tourists visited Malaysia last year.
“Moving forward, we foresee greater cooperation with France in the fields of defence, trade, investment, energy, higher education, training and capacity-building,” he added.
Hollande is scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur this evening, accompanied by ministers, members of parliament, officials as well as a business delegation, and the visiting leader will be given a state welcoming ceremony at Parliament Square here tomorrow morning. – BERNAMA