Relations between Malaysia and Italy have always had good momentum and have escalated positively since 1957. The past 62 years have been productive for many areas of co-operation, namely defence, education, trade and investment, as well as tourism. As for this latter sector, I am pleased to announce that Malaysia is becoming a favoured destination for Italians, with 55,000 Italian tourists having visited Malaysia in 2018. Malaysia is a nation of 32 million and is rich in culture and heritage. Under the new government, Malaysia strives to uphold international law and integrity and curb corruption within the rule of law. At the same time, it continues to develop close and friendly relations with like-minded countries and play an important role in international forums. Malaysia is a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural country and its identity encompasses a vast array of languages, cuisines and traditions.
I wish to highlight that Malaysia is currently riding on an ecosystem approach to lure investment, and not just within the country – it is also leveraging the competitive advantages of other ASEAN member states to create more vibrant and accessible investment opportunities. Given ASEAN’s vast consumer market and the increased development of member countries, companies located in Malaysia can leverage the country’s proximity to these markets and create a strong customer presence in the region.
As Malaysia moves up the value chain, we are looking for more innovation-based, knowledge–intensive projects within high-growth, high-value industries. Having built a strong industrial ecosystem over the years, we are now more targeted in our investment promotion efforts, specifically by focusing on quality investments that will accelerate and sustain the nation’s economic growth. As a trading nation with an open economy, Malaysia welcomes all foreign investments, including those from Italy that meet our aspirations of becoming a developed nation. In this regard, Malaysia would like to strengthen its already strong relations with Italy by opening the door to trade and investment with Italy, and further to encourage Italian businesses – particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – to explore the many lucrative opportunities in Malaysia.
As of June 2018, a total of 73 manufacturing projects involving Italy’s participation had been implemented, with investments amounting to EUR300 million, and Italy is ranked as the seventh-largest investor in Malaysia from Europe. Investors are welcome to look at Malaysia as their gateway to the enormous ASEAN market and beyond. ASEAN is a regional organisation of ten economies and a combined population of more than 622 million that should become the fourth-largest single market in the world by 2030, after the United States, China and the European Union. On that note, I also wish to stress that we share Italy’s view that the best is through creating mutually beneficial and sustainable growth as well as increased co-operation in trade and investment.
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