At the Conclusion of the 6th Italy-Latin America and Caribbean Conference, held at the foreign ministry in Rome Minister Emma Bonino took stock of the two days of intense work: “strengthened” dialogue, “defined and concrete” plans and a “perfected” work method. The decision to open the conference to the collaboration of all the member countries of IILA and all the countries of the Caribbean, Bonino said, “paved the way for an Italian initiative “for” the Latin American region and an initiative “with” Latin America and the Caribbean. This is an evolution, she added, whose potential seems to me to have been fully embraced by all its participants”. That evolution is described in the joint statement adopted at the end of the conference, which reiterates the commitment to “consolidating the conference’s biennial mechanism as a forum for the highest level intergovernmental dialogue between Italy and Latin America and the Caribbean”.
Lasting vitality in relations
“Without wishing to give an order of priority to the results achieved”, the minister observed, “I would like to point out that the main result has been the reassertion of the lasting vitality of relations between Italy and Latin America and the Caribbean. Relations that have well known roots in the history of Italian emigration to the region, and that find renewed vigour in the more recent Latin American and Caribbean migrations toward Italy, resulting in a human closeness that renders political dialogue and shared democratic values a natural thing”.
SME cooperation programmes
Bonino also mentioned the “programmes of cooperation between Italian SMEs and their Latin American counterparts”, as well as the “processes of regional integration under way in Latin America and the Caribbean, whose benefits are also reflected in relations with Italy and the European Union”.
Free trade agreement
Italy, Bonino continued, has “constantly maintained the advisability of a free trade agreement with the countries of that region, and championed it within the European Union. These efforts, she underscored, have been rewarded by the signing and entry into effect of an association agreement between the EU and the countries of Central America, to which Colombia and Peru were added. The hope is to make further progress, first and foremost with MERCOSUR, with which negotiations on an association agreement are to resume shortly, but also with other sub-regional groups working toward the greater integration of Latin America and the Caribbean”.