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Diplomacy for Growth: Dassù and Archi in Asia SME Cooperation and investment in Italy

Italy’s Diplomacy for Growth effort sees missions to Asia by Deputy Ministers Marta Dassù (South Korea, Japan and China) and Bruno Archi (Vietnam and Singapore). The aim of the visits is to strengthen economic cooperation, especially by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with two of Asia’s most dynamic countries and promote Expo Milano 2015.

Expo 2015 will strengthen links with Asia

In Seoul – the third stage of her mission, after Tokyo and Beijing – Dassù met the South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister, Kim Kyou-hyun, for a discussion that focused on the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Milan in 2014 and Expo 2015. Deputy Minister Dassù noted that Italy is working hard to ensure that the Expo attracts a high number of participants (131 have signed up so far) and that its reach extends beyond the Universal Exposition sphere itself. Recent agreements in Asia, and the construction of Asian countries’ pavilions, are of great importance and will help strengthen the links between Italy and the Far East, a region that is increasingly important in the global balance of power.

ASEM Summit, Milan 2014

The Deputy Minister also commented on the excellent state of bilateral relations between Italy and the Korean Republic. 2014 will be an important year, in that it marks the 130th anniversary of bilateral relations. The ASEM Summit, taking place in Milan in October 2014, will provide a propitious setting not just for the celebrations but also for a high-level participation by South Korea. A hope that Dassù underscored, not least in light of the role played by our country in the “Women in Diplomacy” initiative, in which President Park Geun-hye, Korea’s first female president, can play an important part.

Closer collaboration by research bodies

Closer collaboration by research bodies also has a role to play in strengthening bilateral relations, as the Deputy Minister reiterated in her speech at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, one of South Korea’s leading think-tanks. Dassù was speaking at an event attended by specialists from various sectors (Korean peninsula, public opinion, governance and conflict resolution) led by Deputy President Choi Kang. The Deputy Foreign Minister invited Asan representatives to visit Italy to explore and take forward collaborative projects.

Vietnam, new era in bilateral relations

Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Archi’s Asian tour began in Vietnam, with his visit on 22 and 23 July. This choice reflects the Italian Government’s growing interest in relations with Hanoi and marks a concrete step in opening a new era of Italian-Vietnamese relations. Archi’s mission to Vietnam is the first high-level visit since the Joint Declaration setting up the Strategic Partnership between the two countries was signed. The signing took place on 21 January 2013 in Rome, during the state visit by the Secretary General of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong.

Two-year Action Plan finalised

In Hanoi, Archi met his Vietnamese counterpart, Son; Foreign Minister Minh; and the Deputy Prime Minister, Hai. During their meeting they finalised the text of the two-year Action Plan envisaged by the Strategic Partnership and examined the many facets of Italian-Vietnamese relations, with the focus on possible forms of economic cooperation. “Vietnam and Italy are two countries linked by an extraordinarily sound relationship of friendship and cooperation”, noted Deputy Minister Archi. “Indeed, Vietnam is our key partner amongst the emerging countries of Southeast Asia”.

Vietnam: a hub for Italian businesses

Archi’s programme also includes a visit to the Piaggio factory on the outskirts of Hanoi. Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Archi underscored that “Piaggio’s experience in Vietnam shows the country’s potential as a hub for Italian businesses interested in exporting to this part of the world. The Italian Government supports Italian companies in Vietnam and is interested in promoting the extraordinary business opportunities offered by this country”.

Memorandum of Understanding for SMEs signed in Singapore

Deputy Minister Archi visited Singapore on 23 and 24 July for an intense programme of meetings. Highlights were the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the announcement of a mission by representatives of Italy’s infrastructure sector in November 2013.

Archi was accompanied by a delegation representing Italian infrastructure and banking sector companies and a representative of the local Italian Trade Agency office, for a meeting with the Minister for Trade and Industry, Lim, and the signing of the MoU. The Memorandum is designed to increase trade and bilateral investment flows and to encourage partnerships by Italian and Singaporean SMEs to take advantage of a Southeast Asian market that has 600 million people and growth rates averaging 6%.

Singapore is a “key partner”

“Italy looks to Singapore as a key partner in Southeast Asia”, declared the Deputy Minister. “This MoU is an important opportunity for our two countries to deepen their economic cooperation links. It is my firm belief that complementary relationships between our SMEs can build a long-term partnership both in Europe and in Asia”.

Archi’s talks in Singapore

Archi also met his counterpart Grace Fu; the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Culture, Tan; and the Chair of the Temasek Investment Fund, the world’s seventh in order of importance.

The Singaporean authorities were delighted to hear of the infrastructure mission taking place in November, which will be included in the long-term investment programme (an estimated 200 billion euros from now until 2030) introduced by the City-State. The programme is intended to renew and expand the infrastructure network: port, airport, metropolitan transport network and railway links with Malaysia.

During the meetings, Deputy Minister Archi provided the Singaporean authorities with figures illustrating Italy’s sound economic fundamentals and the development policies launched by the Government to spur growth and employment. He also explained the measures decided by the EU at the last European Council.