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Italy–Latin America: in revitalising the partnership, a “no” to protectionism

Knowledge, innovation and cooperation are the foundations for the new partnership between Italy and Latin America. The point was underscored by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at a meeting held at the Italian-Latin American Institute (IILA) in the presence of the Ambassadors of the countries of the region.

In noting the importance of the “human dimension of the relationship between Italy and the sub-continent”, Terzi pointed out that “Italy firmly intends to foster contacts between people, a vital factor if we are develop an equal relationship based on mutual knowledge and understanding”.

On the innovation front, the Minister recalled that “this process cannot be led solely by public institutions. The role of responsible and reliable private investments is a strategic one”. The third pillar on which Italy intends to base its relationship with Latin America is cooperation, “at the political level first and foremost, as the Italy-Latin America conferences of recent years have demonstrated”.

Economic and commercial relations

Turning to economic relations, Terzi noted that “protectionist practices reduce trade to a zero sum game”. He underscored the importance of trade between Italy and the countries of Latin America, and that “the meaning of such trade goes beyond the economic aspect, enormously important as that is”.

“Governments must make a joint effort to progressively eliminate tariff and non-tariff constraints – gradually and with due attention to social processes”, urged Terzi. In this way, he noted, “our businesses and our consumers will have nothing but benefits to gain”. Terzi referred to events in Europe in the 1930s and in Latin America in the 70s and ’80s – periods of political and social instability fuelled by market distortions generated by protectionist trade barriers”.

Lastly, Minister Terzi underscored the importance of regional integration processes for the countries of Latin America. “Italy firmly encourages the political and economic integration currently under way in the region, with Unasur, Mercosur, the Pacific Alliance and other sub-regional organisations taking an active part in economic integration and political dialogue. Thanks to their efforts, democracy and human rights will increasingly become a common heritage of the region”.