MALAYSIA has a strong business ally in European Union-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (EU-MCCI) new chief executive officer (CEO) Roberto Benetello.

During an interview, Benetello highlighted the strengths of the Malaysian business landscape which is beneficial to foreign investors. “Malaysia is the most cost-effective entry-point into Asean. “It is also easy to set up businesses and easy to get around,” he said, expressing appreciation for the good infrastructure and transportation in the country. He highlighted Malaysians’ ability to speak English and said the ease of communication was always a big plus point for European businesses looking to set up businesses.

Looking at a larger perspective, Benetello views entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia favourably. “Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia is great because it is very dynamic in terms of starting a business, and closing a business is very easy too,” he said. In Southeast Asia, he added, everything was moving at a very fast pace. “With agencies like the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre and Cradle, the type of support from the government for young Malaysians to start a business is fantastic . “In Europe, it is difficult for young entrepreneurs to get started,” he said.

As the CEO of EU-MCCI, Benetello is tasked with organising trade missions, and represent the 28 European Union countries as well as engage in business facilitation programmes. “We go to policymakers and the government to discuss issues that are of concern to the business community. “EU-MCCI’s main role is advocacy as the EU is a big contributor to Malaysia’s foreign direct investment,” he said.

Malaysia, Benetello observed, was in a good position for foreign direct investment in Asean as the government was putting in a lot of resources to attract investments. “Malaysia is investing in good talent and coordinating very well with Malaysia External Trade Development Corp offices and the Malaysian embassies around the world,” he pointed out.

He said Malaysia needed to move up to a higher level of manufacturing by embracing greater levels of automation in manufacturing. “The country needs higher compliance to higher standards and more highly-qualified people to move into higher manufacturing,” he said.

NST