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Italy-Latin America: the aim must be greater integration, says Dassù

“Between Latin America and Europe there’s enormous potential for integration, which Italy has every interest in promoting”. Speaking was Secretary of State Marta Dassù during her talk at the Italian-Latin American Institute during the visit by the Colombian Vice President, Angelino Garzon, on 12 January 2012.

In recent years, noted the Secretary of State, Latin America’s appeal “has no longer been limited to natural resources but has been extended to consumption capacity”. Indeed, for the first time in decades economic growth in Brazil (which is now the world’s sixth economy) has been generated largely by domestic consumption rather than inward investment. This means that Brazil, like other countries in the region, “has become a decisive market for European investors”. Moreover, “as regards cultural and social values, Europe is closer to Latin America than to other emerging regions”.

In this framework, “Italy has two key and constant factors on which to build”. One is the “other Italy”, the enormous pool of about 60 million people of Italian origin living abroad, the majority of them in South America, and the other is our industrial structure. The latter is composed not just of major groups with a strong presence in Latin America but also of small and medium-sized enterprises and industrial districts, “which we have often proposed as a model for emerging economies”.

These two factors “must however be reviewed pragmatically and then brought up to date”. First and foremost, the effective involvement of the Italian community as a bridge between Italy and Latin America “will require a policy framework that brings out in full the potential of the relations – all too often compartmentalised – between Italy, its people, its local institutions and ‘the other Italy’ in Latin America”.

Moreover, the international economic outlook of the SMEs that form the bedrock of the Italian economic model “can and must be strengthened”. The creation of the new Italian Trade Institute – a new international economic promotion agency – must act as a valid and valuable instrument to foster the internationalisation of the “country system”. On this front, announced the Secretary of State, Minister Terzi and the Minister for Economic Development, Corrado Passera, “are setting up the ‘nerve centre’ as envisaged by the new law”.

To give a new lease of life to Italian-Latin American relations, therefore, “we need to reposition our banking system, which is almost entirely absent in the region, with the exception of Intesa San Paolo. New investment in technology and innovation is necessary: a result that can only be achieved through synergies between major companies and universities, following the pathway already mapped out with great and constant commitment by Enzo Scotti”.