garcia.jpgThis article was published on Feb 11, 2008 in The Edge Daily, Malaysia

More Spanish companies are coming into Malaysia due to the low cost of doing business here and as rising Spanish exports to Malaysia increase the demand for the countryâ??s goods and services. Spainâ??s economic and commercial counsellor to Malaysia and Brunei, Antonio García said compared to other parts of Asia, it was not especially difficult for companies to carry out its businesses here and the country was at par with Singapore and Hong Kong for the ease of doing business.

García said Malaysia also offered the perfect gateway for Spanish companies to tap into the Asean and other Asian markets. To date, there were more than 20 Spanish companies with a stable presence in Malaysia, with the three most notable making investments totalling close to RM200 million since their arrival here, he told The Edge Financial Daily.

He said Roca Corp Empresarial SA, the worldâ??s largest sanitary ware manufacturer, which in 2006 acquired Johnson Suisse (M) Sdn Bhd, had invested RM100 million while Acerinox SA, the third largest steel producer in the world, which had set up a service centre and storage facility in Johor, had invested an estimated RM40 million. In addition to setting up a Malaysian subsidiary, Acerinox had established an associate company with Yick Hoe group, a Malaysian steel stockist and distributor, he said. â??The business is going very well and they can still increase their investment in the future,â? García said. He added this was reflected by iron and steel products ranking second among Spainâ??s exports to Malaysia. Meanwhile, electronic developer and manufacturer Fagor Electrodomésticos S Coop had established a storage and manufacturing plant here for around RM25 million, he said. He said with the level of exports from Spain to Malaysia rising steadily annually, the number of Spanish companies coming to Malaysia was also expected to rise in the next few years.

He said Spanish exports to Malaysia were expected to rise to RM1.3 billion in 2007, from RM951 million in 2006, adding that the top five exports consisted of ships, boats and floating structures, iron and steel, plastics and plastic products, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances and parts, and tanning, dyeing extracts, pigments and colourings. Spain was also one of the largest foreign investors in the world, and with the worldâ??s eighth largest economy, Spanish companies were keen to do business in Malaysia, García said. He said the Embassy of Spain in Malaysia organised a trade delegation of 100 companies here annually. â??Every year we receive about 100 Spanish companies and we organise meetings for them with Malaysian companies. We receive about 200 trade or investment enquiries from Spain every year.â? He said the companies may be interested in service-based sectors such as telecommunications, banking, infrastructure, energy and environmental technology. The country also promoted some of its leading industries under â??Technology for Lifeâ?, which explored business opportunities in Spanish technology, such as in aerospace, agricultural machinery, irrigation systems and the automotive industry, he said.

Although Malaysian companies currently did not have a large presence in Spain, García said the companies could offer its expertise in auto components manufacturing and the oil and gas sector. Spanish companies may also be interested in working with Malaysian counterparts in producing bio-diesel and other forms of clean energy, riding on Malaysiaâ??s production of crude palm oil, he said. â??This year International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz will be taking a trade mission to Spain for the first time. I think this is going to help a lot because we need to promote Malaysia more in Spain,â? he said.

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