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Thursday, August 28, 2008

South Korea keen on tourism ventures with Malaysia

SOUTH Korea, which is developing its tourism and leisure industry as a future growth engine, is keen to draw from the experience and strength of Malaysian companies.

"The Chinese tourism industry provides huge potential for Korea and since Malaysia has a very advanced tourism industry, it holds a promising area for both countries to do more in the future," said South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Yang Bong Ryull at a seminar on forging partnership between South Korea and Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

YANG: The Korea-Asean free trade agreement will be a catalyst to strengthen partnership

The seminar was to provide Malaysians an insight to investment opportunities in South Korea's Jeju Island's real estate, tourism, education and medical industries.

Bilateral trade between both countries expanded over 10 per cent, registering around RM50 billion last year and Yang estimates that it can reach RM100 billion in five years.

"The Korea-Asean free trade agreement signed last year will be a catalyst to strengthen our partnership to greater heights," he said.

"Joint ventures and strategic alliances between both are countries have been expanding and diversifying from manufacturing to more value-added and technologically advanced sectors such as information and communication technology, oil and gas, finance, property development, tourism and education," he added.

Korea Telecom Freetel, one of the largest mobile service providers in South Korea, is in a joint venture of 3G mobile service with U-Mobile Sdn Bhd in Malaysia.

Daewoo Securities Co has also entered into a strategic alliance with CIMB Investment Bank Bhd, providing cooperation in investment banking and asset management and developing a sukuk market in South Korea.

Woori Bank and Woori Investment, one of the largest financial groups in Korea, recently opened their first representative office in Malaysia.

Governor of Jeju special self-governing province Kim Tae Hwan also urged Malaysian companies to look into the development of tourism complexes, hot spring centres, animal theme parks and resorts.

So far, Berjaya Land, a Berjaya group subsidiary, has invested US$2.6 billion (RM8.76 billion) in developing a resort-style residential complex on Jeju Island.

Malaysian Industrial Development Authority deputy director general 1 Datuk Afifuddin Abdul Kadir said last year, South Korean firms invested in 32 projects worth US$325.2 milllion (RM1 billion) in Malaysia, in which US$31 million (RM104 million) were in new projects and US$294.2 million (RM99 million) were in expansion and diversification projects.

By New Straits Times (by Rupa Damodaran)

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