“We are working to ensure that Italian diplomacy focuses increasingly on economic issues, growth and, it follows, energy. This is a mission I believe to be of fundamental importance for diplomats worldwide and for those working in the producer countries”. The point was underscored by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, speaking at the presentation of the “Iraq Energy Outlook”, a special report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and presented at ENI’s headquarters.
Diplomacy for growth
The Minister noted the “frequent diplomatic initiatives, focusing on economic goals, that we are taking at government level to guide specific actions in the most promising markets. […] Initiatives looking to both the short and the medium term and which will be coordinated with the national energy plan presented a few days ago by Minister Passera”.
“Italian diplomacy”, Minister Terzi pointed out, “is also and most definitely economic diplomacy, a diplomacy for growth. A diplomacy that is keenly aware of the energy issues that enter into the growth equation – and also into the country’s security equation”. On the subject of energy, the Foreign Minister underscored that “a more systematic approach to energy security” will be needed from the European Union. Europe needs to address the issue “more incisively and more convincingly”, concluded the Minister.
Iraq is, indeed, one of the markets potentially of greatest interest to Italy. Oil production, as the IEA report forecasts, could almost double from now to 2020, from 3.2 million to 6 million barrels/day, rising to 8 million by 2035. The IEA’s projections also suggest that Iraq will become the world’s second oil exporter from 2030 (today it is third, after Russia). This would translate into an average annual contribution to GDP of about $200 billion between 2013 and 2035. 80% of crude produced by Iraq between 2020 and 2035 will be exported to Asia.
We believe in the Iraq of the future
Relations between Italy and Iraq are already very close, as the outcome of the third mixed commission, which took place at the Farnesina on 18 October 2012, demonstrate. “We believe in the Iraq of the future, and in its potential. We shall continue in our actions to promote a free, prosperous and socially equal society, but with a respectful and precise vision of the parameters of democracy and respect for human rights”, underscored Terzi. The Minister pointed out that during the meeting with his Iraqi counterpart on 18 October he was assured of the efforts being made by Baghdad to simplify bureaucratic procedures, provide more and better guarantees for investment and streamline judicial proceedings. The Iraqis demonstrated “a sincere determination to make the country more receptive to investment, and not just in the oil sector, and to foster the strongly growing bilateral relationship with Italy”.
Noting the €3 billion that Italy has contributed to Iraq’s reconstruction effort, Terzi remarked that the Italian business system “is interested in increasing its presence in Iraq, and keen to do so”. The Italian institutions, for their part, “intend to boost bilateral cooperation initiatives.[…] Indeed, the Foreign Ministry is currently working to speed up its visa-issuing procedures in Basra and Iraqi Kurdistan”, concluded Terzi.