Recognizing the high and versatile potential of Malaysia, Daniel Dargent, Ambassador of Belgium to Malaysia, talks about the abundance of opportunities ahead.
European Times: How would you describe the relations between Belgium and Malaysia?
Daniel Dargent: Belgium and Malaysia foster traditionally friendly and cooperative relations ever since the opening of the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in 1957. In the beginning, the development cooperation was a particularly important aspect of our relations. The cooperation in the field of education was very fruitful and a lot of students from Malaysia studied in Belgium with scholarships granted by the Government of Belgium. In the last three decades, Malaysia developed significantly and so have the relations between our countries; cooperation has exceeded development support to now more focused on economic relations.
In recent years, the exchange of high-level visits between the two countries has increased and we remain focused on promoting various projects that will further enhance our cooperation.
European Times: Could you elaborate on the economic cooperation and the bilateral trade?
Daniel Dargent: The economic cooperation is our main focus in the last two decades. We are dedicated to promoting the image of Belgium in Malaysia and our ultimate objective is to develop strong economic relations, mainly related to trade exchange and investments. The trade exchange is around €1.5 billion, witnessing an exponential growth in recent years, with a surplus on the Malaysian side. Malaysian exports to Belgium have increased by 11.8% from 2016 to 2017, and Belgian exports to Malaysia have increased 6.1% from 2016 to 2017.
European Times: Which sectors are interesting for Belgian investors?
Daniel Dargent: The piling up of investments from numerous companies shows that Malaysia is very competitive as an investment destination. There is a growing interest of Belgian companies for investing in various sectors, including the limestone sector, financial services, high-tech, food distribution, clean-tech, logistics, the dredging sector etc.
European Times: Why should potential investors choose Malaysia?
Daniel Dargent: Malaysia is a very dynamic, multicultural country, with good infrastructure and great potential. They have an open economy, and more importantly, investors can feel safe. Malaysia offers numerous assets and can be considered as one of the main hubs for the ASEAN region and the Asia region as a whole. The Government provides a lot of incentives and tax exemptions for investors. The mentality in Malaysia is open and welcoming to the Western and European people, it has a high standard of living, great quality of life and numerous tourism opportunities. All these assets make Malaysia an excellent place for business and pleasure.
I invite more Belgian investors to come to Malaysia and explore and seize the numerous opportunities this country has to offer. The Embassy is here to guide, support and assist you in the right areas for doing business.