Cristiano Maggipinto, Ambassador of Italy to Malaysia, discusses the significant political and economic relations, highlighting the positive trend of the trade exchange between the two countries.
European Times: How would you describe the relations between Italy and Malaysia?
Cristiano Maggipinto: In 2017, Italy and Malaysia celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral relations, based on mutual friendship and cooperation. In recent years, Italian resident population and the number of registered Italian companies have doubled, leading to an increase in trade missions as well as intensification of cultural and inter-Universities relations. We are working together on promoting various projects that will further enhance our cooperation.
European Times: Could you elaborate on the economic cooperation and the bilateral trade?
Cristiano Maggipinto: In the last three decades, Malaysia’s economic development has led to strengthening of the bilateral relations, enriched by deeper and stronger economic and commercial ties.
Italian exports have grown by 18.1% in the last five years. The trade exchange is around €2.3 billion, of which €1.25 billion are Italian exports and €960 million are Italian imports from Malaysia.
The trade between Italy and Malaysia is growing significantly in various sectors. Italy exports mainly industrial machinery, because Malaysia appreciates the Italian machinery which offers high quality and reasonable price. Nearly 55% of the Italian export consists of industrial machinery, followed by chemical products and goods related to transportation. The export of traditional ‘made in Italy’ products, such as food, beverage and fashion items, is not very developed, so there is significant room for improvement in these sectors.
European Times: Which sectors are interesting for Italian investors?
Cristiano Maggipinto: There is a growing interest of Italian companies in several sectors, including insurance, infrastructure, building and construction material, industrial cranes, food, fertilizers etc. According to the Trade Commission records, since 2014, the Malaysian Government has approved around 120 industrial projects with Italian participation, amounting to more than US$770 million and more than 11.000 new jobs in Malaysia. Malaysia is also becoming a source of important investments in Italy, and we hope that this trend will grow significantly in the next years.
European Times: Why should potential investors choose Malaysia?
Cristiano Maggipinto: Malaysia is a dynamic, multicultural country, with good infrastructure and great potential. It’s the second most developed economy among the ASEAN, recording a 5.9% GDP growth in 2017. The work force is skilled, and the cost of labour is not as high as in other countries. The Government provides a lot of incentives for investors. Malaysia has a high standard of living, and all these competitive advantages make it an excellent destination for business and pleasure.
Italy looks at Malaysia with a growing attention, not only in terms of the opportunities offered by its domestic market of 31 million people, but also as an ideal gateway to access ASEAN region, with more than 600 million population.