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Italy ‘deeply dedicated’ to stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, Gulf area, Deputy PM Antonio Tajani tells Arab Information

ROME: Italy is “deeply dedicated” to strengthening its relations with Saudi Arabia and different Gulf nations, in keeping with Antonio Tajani, the nation’s deputy prime minister and minister of overseas affairs and worldwide cooperation.

In an interview with Arab Information on the eve of his go to to Saudi Arabia, Tajani provided an expansive and promising perspective of each present and future relations between Italy and the Kingdom.

“The importance of this (Gulf) area on the worldwide stage, in geostrategic and financial phrases, can hardly be overstated,” he mentioned.

“Saudi Arabia is a key participant, and my go to to Riyadh is supposed to reaffirm the robust ties that bind our two nations.”


He was referring to a relationship that has blossomed in recent times not solely within the financial and business sectors but in addition on the geopolitical and cultural ranges.

Ties between the 2 nations have been first established in February 1932, which have been cemented after the institution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by a commerce treaty signed on Sept. 22 the identical 12 months.

“Our goal is to strengthen our relationship even additional,” Tajani mentioned. “Italy’s method relies on dialogue and consensus constructing throughout the board, with no hidden agenda. We are able to due to this fact play a job in fostering strategic partnership based mostly on mutual understanding and able to producing constructive outcomes to the good thing about the nations concerned, within the curiosity of worldwide stability.”

In line with knowledge from the Observatory of Financial Complexity, Italy exported over $4 billion in items to Saudi Arabia, primarily machine elements and medicaments, in 2021. The identical 12 months, Saudi exports to Italy — primarily crude and refined petroleum — reached $5.86 billion. In 2022, the quantity of commerce between Italy and Saudi Arabia reached 11.5 billion euros ($12.04 billion).

A delegation of Saudi entrepreneurs and buyers, led by Kamel Al-Munajjed, thepresident of the Saudi-Italian Enterprise Council, met in Rome on Thursday with the Italian Minister for Financial Improvement Adolfo Urso in Could 2023. (Provided)

Italy and Saudi Arabia are additionally searching for to diversify their commerce ties, notably as each the Kingdom and the EU are shifting away from fossil fuels as a part of a transition to “inexperienced vitality” and financial diversification.

Tajani described the Arab Gulf area as a possible renewable vitality powerhouse of strategic significance for each Italy and Europe, sustaining over time its relevance as a key provider on this area.

On this regard, he identified that the EU plans to import clear electrical energy and hydrogen beneath the REPowerEU plan, which goals to finish the bloc’s reliance on Russia’s fuel provides by 2030.

“We commend the nice efforts undertaken (by the Gulf nations), notably by Saudi Arabia, within the inexperienced transition by investing in photo voltaic and wind energy and in refocusing fossil fuels for hydrogen manufacturing,” Tajani mentioned.

“I’m positive that this technique will assure you superb returns in the long term.”

The capability of the world’s largest single-contracted PV photo voltaic plant, to be positioned in Sudair Industrial Metropolis in Saudi Arabia’s north, can be 1,500MW. (Provided)

Elaborating on the problem, he mentioned: “For instance, the inexperienced hydrogen produced at NEOM (sensible metropolis in Saudi Arabia) can certainly feed the European market by transiting by the Italian community.

“As well as, Italy is already appearing as a provider of data and expertise for the Kingdom’s journey in the direction of web zero, as many Italian firms are engaged in plenty of vitality tasks with Saudi vitality stakeholders, ranging from Saudi Aramco and ACWA Energy.”

On Sept. 4, ACWA Energy signed offers with six Italian firms, together with vitality agency Eni, components producer Italmatch Chemical compounds, industrial options supplier Industrie De Nora and waste administration agency A2A. The agreements, finalized on the Saudi-Italian Funding Discussion board in Milan, cemented collaboration within the fields of inexperienced hydrogen, water desalination, and analysis into sustainable applied sciences.

The discussion board noticed 21 cooperation agreements concluded in numerous sectors, from clear vitality and healthcare to actual property and waste administration. Greater than 1,000 firms attended the discussion board, which was a follow-up to the earlier discussion board held in Riyadh final 12 months.

“(Italy) is just within the high 20 as an investor within the Kingdom, and the worth of our bilateral non-oil commerce quantities to a mere $1.4 billion — which suggests we’re removed from reaching the complete potential of our partnership,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Funding Khalid Al-Falih acknowledged at this 12 months’s discussion board.

Tajani mentioned the Saudi-Italian Funding Discussion board was profitable partly as a result of “many Italian firms obtained to know the tangible alternatives out there beneath Saudi Imaginative and prescient 2030, each when it comes to upcoming tenders within the framework of megaprojects and giga-projects, and when it comes to incentives for direct industrial investments.”

With greater than 150 Italian firms presently holding overseas funding licenses in Saudi Arabia, there might be far larger financial cooperation on the horizon for the 2 nations.

Tajani mentioned Italy can contribute to the megaprojects and giga-projects “due to its universally acknowledged know-how and experience in sectors on which the Saudi authorities are focusing corresponding to new mobility, new city and architectural design, new residential areas and new touristic resorts.”

For good measure, he mentioned: “We may collaborate with the Kingdom in getting probably the most from the nexus between tourism and historic heritage. We’re already cooperating for the event of the AlUla and Diriyah UNESCO websites in addition to Dumat Al-Jandal, the place Italy has an essential archeological mission for the final 20 years.”

The Italian conservation institute Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale” partnered with the Royal Fee for AlUla this 12 months, which is able to see 12 Saudi professionals taking part in workshops in northern Italy’s Turin and the Kingdom’s cultural heritage web site at AlUla.

Final 12 months, Italy was among the many high 5 nations of origin for vacationers to Saudi Arabia. The primary half of 2022 witnessed round 1,500 Italians journey to the Kingdom.

Rome hosted the Saudi Village in late September this 12 months, giving Italians an opportunity, in their very own capital, to expertise the Kingdom’s tradition, heritage, delicacies and vacationer points of interest. Organized by the Saudi Embassy in Italy, the occasion was held in Villa Borghese, the historic park within the coronary heart of Italy’s capital, with points of interest for adults and kids.

Casina Valadier in Villa Borghese hosted the Saudi Village from Sept. 25-29. (Provided)

A number of Italian and Saudi Arabia firms have been represented on the occasion, in addition to representatives from the Kingdom’s ministries of funding, sports activities, and training, Saudi Tourism Authority and Royal Fee for AlUla.

Italy is searching for Gulf and Saudi Arabia investments within the “Made in Italy” strategic fund, meant to spice up essential provide chains. Referring to the fund, Tajani mentioned it could be “a secure and worthwhile funding for Gulf sovereign funds, such because the Saudi Public Funding Fund (PIF), contemplating additionally that it’s according to their long-term methods.”

He added: “The fund can be quickly in place, after the approval of the parliament, which is underway, and can grow to be a key instrument of Italian industrial coverage. By way of direct or oblique non-public fairness investments, the fund will enhance key Italian firms with appreciable progress and of strategic significance for the general economic system.”

Tajani additionally mentioned that Italy has launched a sequence of travelling exhibitions to showcase its manufacturing and inventive industries overseas, highlighting their hyperlinks with the native territory and know-how.

“‘Made in Italy’ is just not solely the so-called three Fs, specifically style, meals, furnishings. In actual fact, Italy is the second-largest manufacturing nation in Europe, a frontrunner in high-value-added sectors, corresponding to mechanics, electronics and pharmaceutical,” Tajani mentioned.

“It’s the mixture of custom and innovation that makes Italy able to producing merchandise which are more and more appreciated in worldwide markets. In opposition to this backdrop, we wish to increase our financial and business partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, which recognize the worth of Italian know-how, craftsmanship and sweetness.”

He cited Ferrari and Maserati as examples of two “very well-known ‘Made in Italy’ manufacturers chosen everywhere in the world not for his or her high quality, design and performance but in addition for the wealthy and diversified cultural heritage they embody.”

Whereas Italy is looking for strategic funding from Saudi Arabia, it is usually trying past the Gulf for companions in financial cooperation, though there are challenges and rewards to being a part of worldwide financial blocs.

Italy has not too long ago questioned its persevering with position in China’s Belt and Highway Initiative, whereas agreeing to affix the deliberate India-Center East-Europe Financial Hall, or IMEC, in mid-September.

“Throughout my current journey to Beijing, I confirmed Italy’s curiosity to develop even additional our cooperation on many fronts. On the identical time, I advised my Chinese language counterparts that Italy didn’t profit from being a part of the Belt and Highway Initiative,” he mentioned.

Tajani’s view is that there are different bilateral frameworks that might assist develop and strengthen Italy’s relationship with China.

Seeking to the longer term, he mentioned: “Our authorities is prepared to create stronger ties with key companions within the Center East, corresponding to Saudi Arabia, and India. Our determination to be a part of the IMEC goes precisely on this course.”

Italy can be searching for companions within the battle towards irregular migration, in keeping with Tajani. “In July, we convened in Rome the Worldwide Convention on Improvement and Migration with key companions from Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf,” he mentioned.

“On that event, we launched the Rome Course of to ascertain an inclusive and complete dialogue to place in place wide-ranging cooperation to handle the basis causes of mass migration, combat towards human trafficking and unlawful immigration, govern authorized migration flows, and help refugees and displaced individuals.”

Tajani praised the participation of Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, Saudi Arabia’s inside minister, for his participation within the summit. “We’re grateful to your nation’s invaluable contribution to its success. Italy and Saudi Arabia share the identical view on preventing towards human trafficking and legal networks lively on this discipline,” Tajani mentioned.

Almost one 12 months has elapsed because the formation of a brand new authorities, which has been marked by the rekindling of worldwide diplomatic relations and the rebuilding of bonds with the Arab world. Tajani referred to as the progress made beneath the present authorities “exceptional.”

“Our major goal was to strengthen our partnership with Washington, make our voice extra related within the EU enviornment, and infuse new energies in our relationship with key gamers within the Mediterranean, the Gulf, and Africa,” he mentioned.

The federal government has made robust efforts towards bettering and widening its ties with Arab nations. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Meloni additionally visited Libya’s capital Tripoli in January this 12 months, and not too long ago spoke to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the cellphone.

“Constructing upon the work we’ve got finished, we are going to maintain creating new partnerships geared toward forging these alliances which are essential to sort out the challenges of our instances,” Tajani mentioned.

Given Italy’s document of frequent authorities adjustments, did Tajani assume the extraordinary diplomatic exercise will outlive the present authorities?

“I’m assured that this authorities will arrive on the finish of its five-year mandate. The bulk within the parliament is powerful and the Italian individuals belief us.”