French carmaker, Peugeot, is in serious talks with Malaysia's Proton Holdings Bhd on possible partnership, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
"It is not concluded yet but that's something which could be a possibility," Najib said at a joint press conference with visiting French President Francois Hollande at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya today.
The state visit of Hollande, who arrived in Malaysia yesterday, is part of the president's first visit to Asean which would include Singapore and Indonesia.
In February, it was reported that Peugeot has submitted a bid to buy a stake in Proton.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said both leaders also held talks on bilateral trade investment between both countries, which stood at RM15.2 billion and France was the 18th largest trade partner for Malaysia.
"Trade is very much in favour of France because of the large amount of capital equipment that Malaysia purchases yearly like aeroplanes, ships and defence- and security-related equipment," he said.
Najib said Malaysia was aware that French companies played a big part and contributions with 60,000 Malaysians employed in French-based companies in Malaysia such as STMicroelectronics, Lafarge and Technip.
On the importance of the palm oil industry, Najib thanked Hollande for not agreeing to the Bill to tax Malaysian palm oil and said this was an encouragement to Malaysia.
Najib said he and Hollande also talked about the importance of palm oil industry, as over 600,000 people depended on it, saying that palm oil was developed on a sustainable basis in Malaysia.
"And we (Malaysia) will make sure that it is environmentally-friendly and ensure a balanced development in this country because many people depend on palm oil as a source of livelihood.
"We are also developing our Malaysian standards, and we hope they can be accepted by European Union or France... that is a great help to us," he added.
Last year, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mah Siew Keong was quoted as saying that Malaysia, a major palm oil producer, would try and persuade France not to increase the duties on Malaysian palm oil which currently attracted 21 percent import tax.
Najib said the bilateral meeting also discussed cooperation in tourism and human capital development and international and regional issues.
"All in all, it has been a productive discussion with Hollande and I'm confident with his visit will definitely strengthen and deepen our already close ties," he said.