KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Italy’s Ambassador to Malaysia Cristiano Maggipinto said trade between Italy and Malaysia is more stable than Italy’s trade with other countries of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this year despite the setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Trade between Italy and Malaysia had decreased in 2020 but the decrease is much lesser compared to (Italy’s) trade with other Asean countries,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama, here.
He said Italian data showed that from January to August this year, Italy-Malaysia trade volume has only decreased by 7.6 per cent compared to an average decrease of 13.1 per cent in trade volume with other Asean countries.
He pointed out that although transactions across most sectors showed a decline, Italy’s import of Malaysian palm oil was unaffected by the pandemic.
On the contrary, he said, the import of Malaysian palm oil had increased.
For the first eight months of this year, he said Italy had imported palm oil worth Euro 335.7 million (RM1.6 billion) from Malaysia.
In 2019, Italy-Malaysia bilateral trade volume reached Euro 2.4 billion (RM11.84 billion).
He said Italy and Malaysia two-way trade has been growing significantly, especially in the past few years, where for the period of 2015 to 2019, the two-way trade volume had increased by 33 per cent.
He added that more Italian companies had also increasingly chosen Malaysia as a hub for their operation in this region. This was reflected in the number of Italian companies registering in Malaysia, which had doubled from about only 50 companies in the past five years to 110 companies currently.
Most of these companies are involved in the oil and gas, petrochemical, aerospace, food processing, and services sectors.
Maggipinto was also optimistic on the economic and trading outlook for both countries in 2021, adding that as the world recovers from the pandemic, Italy and Malaysia should work to further tap the economic potential between them.
“In our opinion, this showed that the two countries are cooperating very well. These two economies are really complementary, based on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and also manufacturing.
“And looking forward to 2021, we have reason to be moderately optimistic, that the two economies will rebound, and even more possibilities to (strengthen) trade,” he said.
Malaysia’s exports to Italy include palm oil, rubber, electric and electronics equipment, tin, iron, and steel.
Among Italy’s main exports to Malaysia are machinery, aircraft and spacecraft, leather goods, and automotive.