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10 DEC 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Italy is ready to contribute proactively in bolstering its ties with the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in its new status as a development partner to the regional grouping.

Ambassador of Italy to Malaysia, Cristiano Maggipinto, said Italy values the roles of ASEAN highly, and the new partnership will open up a new horizon for more significant collaborations towards peace and prosperity in ASEAN.

He said that as a development partner, Italy would offer its many experience and expertise in a wide range of fields to ASEAN state members, including in the fields of science and technology, heritage conservation, climate change, civil protection, security and counter-terrorism, and capacity building.

“Italy has proposed to the ASEAN Secretariat a plan of action on which we would like to collaborate with ASEAN countries.

“We can bring to Malaysia and ASEAN our expertise in different fields. For instance, our technological edge in sectors like engineering, aerospace, and green technology,” he said in an interview with Bernama.

Italy was granted the status of development partner of ASEAN during the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in September this year.

The meeting was chaired virtually by Vietnam due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Italy had presented its candidature in February 2020.

Maggipinto also expressed Italy’s gratitude to Malaysia for supporting its candidature from the beginning.

“It was a very important achievement for Italian foreign politics not only in this part of the world but in general, considering the historic link between Italy and some of the Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia,” he said.

He said as a founding member of the European Union (EU), Italy viewed with importance regional organisations and regional cooperation, especially in today’s globalised world – hence, the need for Italy to forge closer ties with ASEAN had come naturally.

“Italy, the EU, and ASEAN, we share the same values of independence, shared prosperity, peaceful resolution of conflict and controversy, and multilateralism (among others).

“And we see ASEAN in this context as a very important instrument in order to guarantee the stability, peace, and prosperity in this area,” he said.

He said Italy will continue to support ASEAN’s centrality which emphasises multilateralism and cooperation to advance peace, stability and prosperity in this region.

“This is the philosophy, the spirit that informed our candidature as development partner for ASEAN because in this way we think that we can give an important contribution to growth, and to deepen cooperation with the countries of this part of the world,” he said.

He was also optimistic that the partnership will be mutually beneficial, especially in improving bilateral trade between ASEAN and Italy.

“General trade between Italy and ASEAN fared better during the pandemic compared to trade between Italy and other regions in the world. This means there is still large potential to improve and to increase on it,” he said.

In 2019, Italy was the 16th largest trading partner of ASEAN and 4th among the European countries.

In terms of exports to ASEAN, it was ranked in 15th place. Total trade in 2019 amounted to US$22.96 billion (about RM93.2 billion), of which US$13.3 billion (RM54 billion) were made up Italian exports and $9.65 billion (RM38.6 billion) were of Italian imports. - Bernama

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