Latin America is a sub-continent rich in opportunities for Italy and the European Union from the perspective – through collaboration following the small and medium-sized enterprise model – of innovation and smart cities. The point was underscored by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at the seminar on “The Latin America-EU Strategic Partnership and the Challenges of Globalisation: SMEs as a common driver of growth” taking place in Milan. The seminar was organised by Lombardy Region with support from the MFA and the EU-LAC Foundation.
Terzi reminded participants that “in 2020 a new, parallel G7 will overtake the GDP of the seven original most industrialised countries. And two of the main emerging countries, Brazil and Mexico, are in Latin America. […] Smaller countries in the region are also enjoying high growth rates”, he added. “An Association Agreement between the European Union and Mercosur could open up new prospects for growth and create the world’s biggest free trade area, with over 750 million consumers”, continued Terzi. He underscored that “to tackle and win this challenge, the European Union must necessarily look to Italy. […] Our country is a natural partner for the region, with our historic traditions, migration flows, shared values, and cultural affinities”.
Italian investment in Latin America is flourishing
“Italian investment in Latin America has risen in the last ten years from 3% to 16% of total European investment”, continued Terzi. “Italy’s biggest groups are present in the energy, including renewables, and new technology sectors. Ample margins for improvement exist for small and medium-sized enterprises, which can a part in diversifying economies that still too dependent on the exploitation of natural resources”.
“The institutions”, added the Minister, “can encourage joint ventures between European and South American companies both through scouting for opportunities and ensuring that contracts and investments are protected. […] The goal of this seminar is to arrive at a proposal for the business summit taking place in Santiago in the run-up to the first EU-CELAC Summit of Heads of State and Government. That proposal will focus on economic collaboration between the two regions following a model based on SMEs, innovation and the development of smart cities”.
EXPO 2015 in Milan will be “an opportunity to place Italian excellence at the disposal of a more sustainable way of life. 14 of the 18 Latin American countries have already signed up. We intend to reiterate, together, the principle that innovation and economic development must be placed at the service of people and the environment”.