‘Malaysia is gateway to RCEP’
28 Jan 2021
Development partner Italy wants to strengthen ties with Asean, says envoy
Italy remains committed to Malaysia as a trading and investment partner, and sees Malaysia as a gateway to opportunities arising from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Italian investments in Malaysia are present in sectors such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, aerospace, and the green and circular economy.
Its ambassador to Malaysia Cristiano Maggipinto said greater collaboration between the two countries would enable Malaysia’s private sector to tap Italy’s advanced technological expertise and expedite Malaysia’s digital economy.
He said Italy had pursued a strategy with the aim of strengthening relations with Asean.
This was demonstrated at the 53rd session of the Asean Ministers of Foreign Affairs Summit where Italy’s candidacy as development partner was unanimously approved.
“In this framework, Italy has given new depth to the relations with Malaysia, which represents one of the most relevant actors in the area and offers a number of benefits not easily found in the region,” said Maggipinto at the
“Italian Industry Expertise in Malaysia” webinar hosted by CARI, an agency focused on Asean research and advocacy, in partnership with the Asean Business Club.
CARI Asean Research and Advocacy chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid said in his opening statement that the Invest Asean series intended to provide an active forum for influential policymakers and corporate leaders to share and identify key opportunities for growth and development in the region through an analysis on the emerging trends affecting global business and markets.
“Notwithstanding the Covid-19- induced global slowdown, Asean remains a dynamic region. With a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$3.2 trillion in 2019, Asean represented the fifth-largest economy in the world.”
Munir said as the central player of the RCEP agreement, Asean provided a regional platform for external businesses to tap into the largest free-trade agreement in the world.
With 15 signatories, RCEP represented a market of 2.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$26.2 trillion, he said.
“On the other side of the equation, many of us do not recognise Italy is well above the European Union (EU) average in the production and use of industrial robots, and in the adoption of technologies such as cloud, Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communications.
“It is the second largest manufacturer in the EU after Germany. Therefore, its strong industrial base and awareness of digitalisation are something that Asean countries would want to be engaged with,” he said.
Malaysian Investment Development Authority chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud said the government was undertaking major initiatives to draw investments into Malaysia.
These include digitalising selected government services, providing tax incentives for the pharmaceutical and services sectors and implementing a onestop centre to facilitate the entry of business travellers into the country.
“As we move towards strategic diversification, particularly in high-value products and highend services, the country offers vast opportunities for Italian investments in machinery and equipment, aerospace, green technology, automotive technologies and industrial design,” he said.