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ASEAN as an Investment Hub: Italian Businesses Eye Malaysia as the Gateway to Opportunities Arising Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

ASEAN as an Investment Hub: Italian Businesses Eye Malaysia as the Gateway to Opportunities Arising Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Kuala Lumpur, 27 January 2021 – CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) in partnership with ASEAN Business Club hosted another webinar under its flagship Invest ASEAN series on ‘Italian Industry Expertise in Malaysia’.

The session featured Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA); His Excellency Cristiano Maggipinto, Ambassador of Italy in Kuala Lumpur; Luciano Pezzotta, Deputy Chairman of Eurocham Malaysia and Executive Board Member of the Italy Malaysia Business Association (IMBA); Lamberto Barbieri, Managing Director of CRIF Regional Headquarters (HQ) in Asia; Vincenzo Alaimo, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Global Sales of Leonardo Helicopters Division; and Dr Luciano Giorgi, Country Manager (Malaysia) of Maire Tecnimont and Chairman of Allied Elite Limited.

Moderated by Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI, the discussion emphasised on the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement providing an outstanding platform for multinationals to tap into the regional trading area that represents 30 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Malaysia as a vibrant RCEP member provides significant trading and investment opportunities, including for the Italian businesses operating in the region.

Italian investments in Malaysia have ventured in various sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, aerospace, and green and circular economy. Greater collaboration between Malaysia and Italy will further open Malaysia’s private sector to tap into Italy’s advanced technological expertise and expediting the momentum of Malaysia’s digital economy.

ASEAN as a growing trade and investment hub
Tan Sri Dr. Munir in his opening statement highlighted on Invest ASEAN series presenting an active forum for influential policymakers and corporate leaders to share and identify key opportunities for growth and development in the ASEAN region, apart from analysing the emerging trends on global business and markets.

“Notwithstanding the COVID-19-induced global slowdown, ASEAN remains a dynamic region. With a combined GDP of US$3.2 billion in 2019, ASEAN represented the fifth-largest economy in the world. As the central player of the RCEP Agreement, ASEAN offers global businesses to tap into the largest free trade agreement in the world. With 15 signatories, RCEP represents a market of 2.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$26.2 billion,” said Tan Sri Dr. Munir.

He added, “On the other side of the equation, many of us may not realise that Italy is well above the EU average in the production and use of industrial robots and adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as the cloud, IoT and M2M (machine to machine) communications. It is the second largest manufacturer in the EU, after Germany. Its strong industrial base and awareness of digitalisation are something which ASEAN countries would want to be engaged with.”

Italy remains committed to Malaysia as a trading and investment partner
H.E. Cristiano Maggipinto stressed that Italy has pursued a strategy to strengthen relations with ASEAN. The commitment was also conveyed through the 53rd Session of the ASEAN Ministers of Foreign Affairs Summit, in which Italy’s candidacy as Development Partner of the Association was unanimously approved.

“This important outcome institutionalised our growing political, economic and social ties, giving us a prominent role in Southeast Asia. In this framework, Italy has given new depth to the relations with Malaysia, which represents one of the most relevant nation in ASEAN and offers a number of benefits that are not easily found in the region,” stated Ambassador Maggipinto.

He points out that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade between Italy and Malaysia in the first seven months of 2020 remained at similar level to 2019. Italian companies in Malaysia are operating in a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, defence and aerospace, construction, automotive, and chemicals.

Government undertaking major initiatives to drive investments into Malaysia
Dato’ Azman Mahmud shared that Malaysia continues to be a competitive investment destination despite the global uncertainties, with US$26.4 billion worth of approved investments in the overall economy in the first nine months of 2020. In fact Investments approved in the manufacturing sector for the period of January to September 2020 saw an increase of 16.6% in capital investments compared to the corresponding period in 2019; with FDI recording an increase of 3.2%. The Malaysian government is undertaking additional initiatives to drive foreign investments, such as easing operating of businesses through digitalising selected government services, providing new tax incentives for the pharmaceutical and services sectors, as well as implementing a One Stop Centre (OSC) to facilitate the entry of business travellers into the country.

“Malaysia’s economic structure and the solid macroeconomic management continue to support the country’s economic fundamentals as we advance into the new normal. As we move towards strategic diversification, particularly in high-value products and high-end services, the country offers vast opportunities for Italian investments in high-quality machinery and equipment, aerospace, green technology, automotive technologies, and industrial design. MIDA is optimistic that more quality investment will be coming to Malaysia in the coming years,” said Dato’ Azman Mahmud.

Dato’ Azman also urged Malaysia’s private sector to leverage upon Italian technological expertise to help facilitate Malaysia’s digital economy, which is expected to grow by 21% between 2020 and 2025, reaching an estimated US$30 billion gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2025.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Sikh Shamsul Ibrahim Sikh Abdul Majid
Director of Foreign Investment Promotion Division Division, MIDA
Email: [email protected]
DL: +603 2267 6633

Mr. Jukhee Hong Executive
Director CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI)
Email: [email protected]

About MIDA

MIDA is the government’s principal investment promotion and development agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) to oversee and drive investments into the manufacturing and services sectors in Malaysia. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur Sentral, MIDA has 12 regional and 20 overseas offices. MIDA continues to be the strategic partner to businesses in seizing the opportunities arising from the technology revolution of this era. For more information, please visit www.mida.gov.my and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube channel.

About CARI
CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) was established in 2011 by CIMB Group. CARI is the first independent, transnational research institute dedicated solely to the advancement and acceleration of ASEAN integration.

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