Sarawak, Italy collaboration can benefit both parties
22 Jan 2021
Sarawak is inviting businesses from Italy to work closely with the state on available potentials in both regions to benefit both parties, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
“Possible areas of collaborations include biotechnology; manufacturing of medical devices, automotive, glass and high-tech products; food technology; and design and production of high-end furniture,” he said at the Digital Round Table Discussion on Asean-Italy Relations yesterday.
The discussion, which was held virtually, also saw the participation of Lombardy Regional Government president Attilio Fontana, Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) dean and former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, and Partner of the European House Ambrosetti, Lorenzo Tavazzi.
Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, said Sarawak’s total trade with Italy was €167.1 million (RM825.4 million) in 2019.
He said Sarawak’s export to Italy in 2019 was €116.41 million (RM555.107 million) mainly in vegetable oils and ferro alloys, while import from Italy in 2019 was €42.34 million (RM207.29 million) mainly in engines and motors, chemicals, tractors, ball and hydraulic valves for oil and gas sector.
Awang Tengah also said that in 2019, Italy was Malaysia’s 20th global trading partner, with total trade amounting to €2.4 billion (RM12.1 billion).
“For the first 11 months of 2020, exports to Italy was valued at €117.3 million (RM577.9 million) while imports were €28.8 million (RM141.9 million). There is plenty of opportunities for trade between Sarawak and Italy,” he said.
He also welcomed Sarawak’s participation in the digital roundtable discussion because it a good platform for Sarawak to be acquainted with their Italian counterparts and to form friendships and collaborations.
“In fact, the Sarawak government has planned to participate at the Milan Furniture Expo in 2020. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement restrictions globally, the event was cancelled. I understand the Expo may proceed later if the situation improves,” he said.
Awang Tengah, who is also Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, also shared with the audience that Sarawak is the third largest contributor to the Malaysian economy.
In 2019, he said Sarawak contributed 9.6 per cent to Malaysia’s economy which largely came from the oil and gas sector.
“Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is valued at €258.96 billion, while Italy’s GDP is valued at €1,700 billion. Sarawak’s GDP is €26.93 billion. The main contributors to Sarawak’s economy are services, manufacturing, mining and agriculture.”
In terms of trade, Sarawak has always registered positive balance of trade since 1970s, he added.
He added that despite the economic slow down, Sarawak continued to enjoy positive trade balance and its major export markets are Japan, Peninsular Malaysia, China and Korea.
On a related matter, he said Sarawak was one of the most attractive destinations in Malaysia for investment despite the global economic slowdown in the past two years.
He said up to September last year, Sarawak ranked No.1 as the most preferred investment destination in Malaysia in terms of investment in the manufacturing sector worth €3.18 billion or RM15.8 billion.
“Even during this pandemic, serious foreign investors continue to seek investment opportunities in Sarawak. We have South Korean and Chinese investors applying to enter Sarawak to conduct feasibility studies,” he said.
Source: The Borneo Post