21 Jun, 2009 15:55 PM
Italy Opens New Chapter In Bilateral Relations With Malaysia

From Manik Mehta

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Bernama) -- The just-concluded two-day visit to Malaysia by a high-profile business delegation from Italy led by the country's deputy minister for economic development, Adolfo Urso, is highly successful and has opened a new chapter in bilateral relations.

Italy, which in the past had not paid much attention to forging closer relations with Malaysia, has undergone a dramatic change as it searches for new markets as its traditional markets in other regions reel under a severe recession accompanied by a sharp decline in demand for Italian products and services.

A number of documents signed by both sides underscores their resolve to forge closer ties between them.

Italian ambassador to Malaysia, Alessandro Busacca, told Bernama that the talks augured well for the future.

A strong framework to forge closer ties has been created with the signing of three documents -- a joint communique, the terms of reference of the joint economic committee envisaged under the joint declaration on economic cooperation adopted on June 26, 2007, and a memorandum of understanding signed between the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Confederation of Italian Industry (Confidustria).

The first document was signed by Urso and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir; the second document, which was adopted, did not require signatures while the third document was signed by the FMM president Tan Sri Mustafa Mansur and vice-president in charge of international relations at the Confindustria, Paolo Zegna.

Busacca described the Italian Business Day, held at a hotel here as incredibly successful, with some 66 Italian companies and 140 Malaysian companies participating and a total of 400 business-to-business direct meetings taking place.

"The round table on cooperation in the banking sector with representatives of five Italian banks headed by Domenico Santececca Central Director for ABI, the Italian Banking Association, and Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, went on for two hours and was very productive," the Italian ambassador said.

According to Busacca, both sides are interested in expanding trade and investments.

The MoU, which will be valid initially for a two-year period and be extendable thereafter for a year, also provides for the creation of a joint steering committee.

According to Mustafa, the steering committee will exchange information on possible strategic alliances and other kinds of industrial and productive partnerships between the Italian and Malaysian companies.

"The steering committee will focus on encouraging and developing the establishment of Malaysian-Italian industrial cooperation in specific sectors such as mechatronics, electronics, biotechnology, new energies and engineering sectors, to name a few," he said.

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