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29 May 2017

MILAN: The Italian business community has been urged to view Malaysia as the gateway to the enormous Asean market.

In making the call, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Asean was set to become a massive powerhouse in the global economic arena with the implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by the end of the year.

“In terms of geography, Malaysia is ideally situated in the region. In terms of connectivity, we are unmatched. In terms of policy, Malaysia’s pragmatic, prudent and business-friendly approach is already gaining worldwide endorsement,” he said during a round table meeting with Italian captains of industry here on Friday.

He is on a three-day visit to Milan.

He said the potential was enormous with an integrated regional market of more than 600 million people and zero tariffs for almost all tradable products as AEC sought to create a single market and production base.

“Asean’s current combined Gross Domestic Products of more than US$2.3tril (RM8.2tril) already ranked as the world’s eighth lar­gest.

“It is encouraging to note that Italian investors are also expan­ding and diversifying their existing operations, reflecting their confidence in Malaysia,” said Muh­­yiddin.

He said Malaysia welcomed more Italian companies with qua­lity investments in new technologies including energy efficiency and e-mobility as well as high value service sectors such as ICT, data analytics, design and deve­lopment.

He said over the past 10 years, trade between Malaysia and Italy had been on a steady rise with the total trade in 2014 amounting to US$2.69bil (RM9.68bil).

In terms of investments in the manufacturing sector, he said both countries had gone from approved investments of just US$9.5mil (RM34.2mil) in 2010 to US$303mil (RM1.08bil) last year.

Last year, Malaysia approved a total of 115 manufacturing projects with Italian participation and investments totalling US$654.3mil (RM2.3bil) and have created 10,378 employment opportunities.

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