Malaysia may use S. Fla. as Western Hemisphere base

The Malaysian government may open a trade office in Broward, just one of the results of the Broward Alliance-led trade mission to Malaysia. Other possibilities: Florida-style space tourism, port services and a Nova Southeastern University outpost in the country.

For its new office, the Broward Alliance said it expects Malaysia to lease at least 4,000 square feet and use South Florida as a base to show products and promote business in the Western Hemisphere.

The "Opportunity Malaysia 2005" mission included leaders from more than 20 Florida-based companies, three-fourths of which were from Broward, and economic interests who see great potential for increased commerce between the state and Kuala Lumpur.

The Florida Space Authority, a mission participant, said it held exploratory discussions with Malaysian officials about bringing space tourism to southeast Asia. The discussions involved bringing students to the United States for sub-orbital rocket launch training programs with scientists and engineers.

The program already has a working agreement with the Irish government and involves NASA, as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Florida Space Authority Board Member Ken Haiko said Malaysia has traditionally used Russian technology for its satellite launches.

Other results of the mission:

  • International Warehouse Services, a company that primarily stores cargo in the Fort Lauderdale foreign trade zone at Port Everglades, is negotiating to provide port services in Malaysia.
  • Aviation company SkyTruck said it expects to sell 10 airplanes to the Malaysian government.
  • Nova Southeastern University is considering an American-accredited university consortium to provide educational opportunities to Malaysian people without them having to leave their country to study.

Bernhard Schutte, chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale-based Digital Media Network, Inc. organized the Feb. 26-March 5 mission.

"Malaysia has a stable economy, favorable political market conditions, strong, multi-faceted ties to the United States, and is second only to Japan in wealth among Southeast Asian nations," Schutte said. "This trip laid the foundation for partnerships that will enable Florida interests to increase market share, expand globally and gain access to an entire region."

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.