FRANKFURT, � Highlighting the “excellent opportunities” in its region in northern Malaysia, the dedicated agency for promoting investments and development, a high-powered delegation of the Koridor Utara Malaysia (KUM) is currently visiting three European nations – Germany, France and the United Kingdom – to court investors.

The delegation, comprising Zainal Abidin Osman, special adviser to the Prime Minister on the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) and Datuk Redza Rafiq, KUM’s chief executive, are holding talks with potential investors and facilitate their entry into the four-state KUM region comprising Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak.

In an interview with Bernama in Frankfurt, Redza retraced the evolutionary development of the northern corridor.

“The northern corridor was set up because Malaysia takes a regional approach. The idea is to have a more distributive focus. We have, traditionally, a strong manufacturing base in the region since 42 years when semiconductor companies arrived to set up their operations. From semi-conductor industry, we expanded into aerospace, solar, biotechnology, etc.

“Agriculture is an important area for us – some 65 per cent of the nation’s rice is produced here. Services is another area which we would like to develop, with focus on tourism, logistics, etc .

“Let’s not forget that some two-thirds of transit exports from South Thailand pass through our region for destinations in the Far East, Europe and also the US. Tourism is the single largest contributor to the region’s economy. We are working to find direct air connectivity or some alternative to increasing tourism figures,” Redza said.

Though he would not reveal the names of the German companies and organisations he was calling on, he said that the delegation was meeting with a “few partners” in Germany involved in manufacturing of electronics, though his delegation was also in Germany to “enhance its knowledge-based activities in our new growth areas in the northern corridor”.

He said that with the growing importance of digitalisation, he was also interested to talk to electronic companies on issues such as automation and robotics.

Without mentioning the name, he noted that the delegation had “one multinational company” which will be good for Perlis.

“We hope to bring in more German companies to the northern corridor,” he added.

According to Redza, an investment volume of some RM80 billion had flowed between 2009 and 2016 into the northern corridor.

“Of this, 43 per cent was foreign direct investment. We have new hotels and tourism-relevant infrastructure being set up in our region. Our corridor region is also rich in rubber, palm oil, tin, etc. But the northern corridor is renowned as a manufacturing hub,” he said.

Redza pointed out that Penang Airport was upgraded with an outlay of RM250 million. The corridor’s development is also reflected in its annual growth rates which surged from 3.5 per cent in 2007 to 5.8 per cent growth in 2010.

The economic development had also contributed to the rise in median income of the people from three per cent in 2007 to 10 per cent in 2014.

“We have identified 80 Projects which will take us to the next level of developments. We have seven mega projects in the four states.

“We have so-called transcending border projects which are interconnected to each other in the states — we have a localised high impact project of each state,” he said.