Chances high Malaysia may buy China jets, says ‘impressed’ trade minister

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visits exhibition booths after the opening of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition in Langkawi March 26, 2019. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking today indicated the possibility for Malaysia to buy fighter jets from China has increased. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visits exhibition booths after the opening of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition in Langkawi March 26, 2019. International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking today indicated the possibility for Malaysia to buy fighter jets from China has increased. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

LANGKAWI, March 26 — Amid the kick-off of the 5th Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019 (LIMA), International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking indicated the possibility for Malaysia to buy fighter jets from China has increased.

He said Malaysia and China had good ties and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had specifically mentioned buying jets from China due to its impressive technology.

“Even the prime minister is impressed with China’s technology,” Leiking said during a press conference at the exhibition here in response to Dr Mahathir’s remark that Malaysia could buy fighter jets from China if the European Union (EU) continues its discriminatory stance against Malaysian palm oil.

Leiking said the Chinese jets are also more cost effective.

He added that there are also other countries with similar impressive technology that can be considered, such as those from Turkey.

“There are many interesting aircrafts on display here, with impressive technology, the China booth is particularly interesting,” he said, referring to the exhibits at LIMA.

The trade minister said Malaysia is aiming to top last year’s RM14.4 billion revenue, and gae a figure of between RM15 billion and RM16 billion this year.

He said the industry has managed to maintain its positive growth since the implementation of the Blueprint 2030 led by the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office (NAICO).

“About 24,500 highly skilled workers are serving in this industry,” he said when announcing the aerospace and shipbuilding and ship repair (SBSR) industries performance for 2018 at the

According to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), there are bright investment prospects for the aerospace and SBSR industries.

MIDA Chief Executive Officer Datuk Azman Mahmud said they are targeting at least RM1 billion in local and foreign investments for the aerospace industry in 2019.

“We have already confirmed investments of RM500 million and we hope to reach our target soon,” he said in the same press conference.

The aerospace industry recorded RM816.3 million in investments in 2018 with 41 per cent of it from foreign investments.

As for the SBSR industry, MIDA is looking at attracting RM150 million worth of investments in 2019.

The SBSR industry in Malaysia is a subset of the marine industry and the total revenue it recorded in 2018 was RM7 billion, according to Leiking.

He said SBSR exports have also been increasing where it recorded RM1.29 billion in 2018 as compared with RM1.08 billion in 2017.

He said two expansion projects worth RM33 million were approved in the SBSR industry in 2018.

“These are wholly Malaysian-owned projects which are expected to create 51 new jobs,” he said.

Leiking added that three states, Selangor, Kedah and Negri Sembilan have highlighted their initiatives to support the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030.

He said Selangor announced its own action plan known as Selangor Aerospace Action plan covering seven areas with 30 action items.

“Kedah has launched its plan to develop Kulim International Airport that will become the catalyst to position Kedah as one of the leading aerospace states in Malaysia,” he said.

Negri Sembilan has developed a comprehensive development plan focusing on aerospace industry under its Malaysia Vision Valley project.

Leiking is confident that the aerospace industry will continue to thrive as the Asia Pacific region is expected to have the highest growth in new aircraft delivery for the next decade.

He said the SBSR industry too has potential to grow as businesses can look at new areas of maritime and marine equipment products.

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