Friday, August 12, 2011

Korea, France to invest RM2b in ECER biotech sector

KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea's CJ CheilJedang Corporation and France's Arkema SA are investing a combined RM2 billion in Malaysia's industrial bioTECHNOLOGY [] sector, the largest investment to-date for the sector, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

The Prime Minister said on Friday, Aug 12 the plant was expected to generate about RM20 billion of cumulative sales by 2020 and provide employment opportunities to almost 500 local knowledge workers.

'This project will be a significant economic boost to the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Malaysia and more importantly the special economic zone,' he said.

Najib was speaking at the signing of the collaboration among CJ-ARKEMA, Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp) and East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).

The 80,000 ton bio-methionine production plant and the thiochemicals platform will occupy 70 ha in the ECER special economic zone in the Kertih Polymer Park, Terengganu and will be operational in 2013.

Among those present to witness the announcement were Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Menteri Besar of Terengganu Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department'' Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili.

Also present were CJ CheilJedang Asia executive vice president & chief executive officer Jin-Hyun Kim, Arkema Asia Pacific president Dominique Namer while BiotechCorp was represented by chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal and representing ECERDC was its CEO, Datuk Jebasingam Issace John.

The investment will be a breakthrough for the global feed additives industry as for the first time, the production of bio-methionine will pool together both biotechnology advancement and applied chemistry. Bio-methionine is a sulphur amino acid widely used for animal feed in Asia.

Ahmad Said expected the plant to give the Kertih Polymer Park a boost, adding the investment augured well for potential investments, especially in the biotechnology field and downstream activities.

BiotechCorp chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal said: 'The RM2-billion investment will further stimulate the growth of the industrial biotechnology sector and provide commercial opportunities for the industry especially as Malaysia moves into the commercialisation phase of the National Biotechnology Policy (NBP).

'More significantly, it's a leap for Malaysia as a knowledge intensive and cost effective industrial biotechnology hub in the region.'

BiotechCorp with ECERDC are the joint promoters of the project.

'The joint-venture collaboration marks a major milestone for ECER and our Special Economic Zone. This will not only mark Malaysia as a hub for Research and Development (R & D) activities, but will also provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in high income, value added sectors for the people in the East Coast region,' said Jebasingam.

He added among the key reasons for CJ-ARKEMA to locate its plant in the ECER SEZ was the attractive fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, location suitability and manpower availability. The ECER is ready to receive investments, especially in high value sectors. The Special Economic Zone is well positioned to tap into the Asia Pacific market.

The ECER is an economic development corridor in Malaysia comprising of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor.

Both CJ and ARKEMA are globally renowned chemical and industrial biotechnology companies with strong portfolios in commercialised products. CJ is a leading producer of fermentation-based products such as feed amino acids, MSG, and nucleotides with global manufacturing and business operations in 6 continents.

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