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18-06-2009 11:57 Italy

Italy to continue investing in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (NNN-BERNAMA) -- Italy, Malaysia's fifth largest trading partner in the European Union (EU), will continue to invest in this country despite the global economic slowdown, says Italian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Adolfo Urso.

"The investment will not stop although we are facing economic turmoil. We will be looking at the opportunities, particularly in the new growth corridors (in malaysia)," he told a media briefing here Wednesday.

Urso, who is leading a high-powered trade and investment mission to Malaysia, had earlier met Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Mukhriz Mahathir to discuss ways to further expand bilateral trade and economic relations.

In the first four months of 2009, total trade between Malaysia and Italy amounted to 2.033 billion Ringgit (one USD = about RM3.5), with Malaysian exports to Italy totalling RM875.3 million and imports from italy amounting to RM1.158 billion.

In terms of investments, as at end-March, a total of 96 manufacturing projects with Italian participation had been approved, involving investments of RM871.9 million.

Urso said the potential sectors the Italians were interested to invest in were electrical and electronics (E&E), medical, biotechnology, plastics, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing.

Earlier, at the bilateral meeting, both deputy ministers adopted the Terms of Reference for the Malaysia-Italy Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and signed the Joint Communique on the bilateral meeting.

The Malaysia-Italy JEC was established following the signing of the Joint Declaration on Economic Co-operation between Malaysia and Italy in 2007. With the adoption of the Terms of Reference, both sides would work towards a mutually-agreeable date to convene the first meeting of the JEC.

The meeting also saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the establishment of the Italy-Malaysia Business Steering Committee between the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Confederation of the Italian Industry (Cofindustria).

Mukhriz said the MOU would help both parties further enhance business relationships and bilateral trade, which had been on an upward trend over the last five years. Total trade rose from RM4.8 billion in 2003 to RM7.69 billion last year.

Last year, Italy accounted for 5.8 percent of Malaysia's total trade with the EU. Major imports from Italy were E&E products (RM1.721 billion); machinery, appliances and parts (RM1.449 billion); chemicals and chemical products (RM511.1 million); iron and steel products (RM232.4 million); and, manufacture of metal (RM192.2 million).

Major exports to Italy were E&E products (RM633.0 million); palm oil (RM483.6 million); rubber products (RM338.7 million); machinery, appliances & parts (RM299.8 million); and, crude rubber (RM158.4 million.

Italian companies are participating in the manufacturing-related services (MRS) activities in Malaysia. For the period 2006-2008, two Italian companies were granted MRS establishments (one regional distribution centre and one representative office).

They are also participating in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), a special zone for high-technology enterprises, and to date three Italian companies have been given MSC-status to undertake activities realted to telecommunications, software for aviation systems and software for the publishing industry.

Major Malaysian companies operating in Italy include national oil and gas corporation Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) in product retailing and marketing.



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