*Proposal to store Qatari LNG in Malaysia'

Malaysia is eyeing Qatar in its liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage project as it seeks to be a storage and redistribution hub for the region.

The South East Asian country has also assured its help in facilitating Qatari corporate sector's entry into the wider Asean region.

Malaysia is also toying with the idea of establishing a car manufacturing plant in Qatar as part of plans to tap the wider markets in the Middle East region.

Highlighting that there are areas where Qatar can invest in Malaysia, especially in oil and gas; Malaysia’s Prime Minster Dr Mahathir Mohamed said: "There is a proposal now for LNG to be stored in Malaysia for redistribution to the surrounding countries." However, no further details were disclosed.

Addressing the roundtable meeting with the industry captains, organised by Malaysia in association with Qatar Chamber and Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA), he said Malaysia is hopeful of doing "quite a lot" of business with Qatar in the oil and gas sector.

Finding that at present there are only a handful of investments from Qatar to Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamed said his country would welcome more companies from Qatar to explore the business opportunities, particularly in hydrocarbons, chemicals and chemical products, food processing, halal, hotel and tourism, Islamic banking and finance.

"We are confident that Malaysia will be an ideal destination for Qatari investors especially to access the broader markets in the Asean region," he said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is an intergovernmental organisation comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Asserting that Malaysia looks to provide optimal investment landscape to facilitate investors by investing in human capital, technology and infrastructure, coupled with pro-business policies; he said: "I am optimistic that Qatari investors will find Malaysia an exciting base to expand their overseas operations."

Malaysia's moves to woo Qatar investments come in the wake of its fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), a national policy that aims to transform the manufacturing sector and related services within the 2018 to 2025 period.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPAQ) had last October signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote information exchanges on economic and industrial development as well as the organisation of joint promotional activities.

"With its strong economic fundamentals, Malaysia continues to attract foreign direct investments," he said, disclosing that the country remains on a steady economic path with a healthy average gross domestic product growth of 4.6% in the first three quarters of 2019.

Mohamed also said there are ample business opportunities that can be explored by Malaysian businesses in Qatar. At present, Malaysian companies as Gamuda, UEM, Eversendai, Holiday Villa and Malaysia Airports have a large footprint in Qatar.

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani said there are more than 50 Malaysian companies in Qatar, of which five with full Malaysian capital and the rest with Qatari partners, and are active in sectors as engineering, construction, oil and gas and IT.

He said both countries’ huge potential might play a key role in stimulating more co-operation and increasing their bilateral trade exchange which amounted to $291mn in the first half of this year.

QBA chairman Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim al-Thani said it considers Malaysia an important investment and trade partner, and "we look forward to more co-operation and effective partnerships in the light of the economic and commercial capabilities both countries have."

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