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Meeting between Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Manlio Di Stefano, and the State Secretary for Economic Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch

The Undersecretary of State, the Hon. Manlio Di Stefano, had a fruitful working meeting today with the State Secretary for Economic Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch. The meeting focused on bilateral relations, the crisis in Ukraine and the reform of the World Trade Organisation. The discussion gave both parties an opportunity to confirm and underscore the “excellent partnership between Italy and Switzerland”. As Undersecretary Di Stefano observed, “we are linked by historic relationships, intense cross-border relations, and deep political, economic and cultural ties” with the Swiss Confederation, “as shown by the signing of numerous bilateral agreements in recent years and the fruitful dialogue between our countries”. Switzerland is, in fact, Italy’s fifth trading partner, with trade amounting to around 38 billion euros and a surplus on the Italian side of 16 billion euros.

During their meeting, the Hon. Di Stefano and State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch noted the excellent trade and investment relations between Italy and Switzerland. They also discussed the outlook for future economic and commercial cooperation, especially in the clean energy, pharmaceutical and transport sectors. The State Secretary expressed the interest shown by Swiss businesses in the Italian market and in investment opportunities linked to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. On this subject, Undersecretary Di Stefano described the initiatives launched by the Italian Government and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in particular, to support businesses and also make it possible to further strengthen bilateral economic relations. Of these, the Hon. Di Stefano mentioned the Venture Capital Fund and the Pact for Export, which includes the “Be IT” nation branding campaign.

Turning to the crisis in Ukraine and the economic consequences for Europe, the Undersecretary and the Swiss State Secretary agreed on “the need to reconsider global value chains” and diversify imports of energy and raw materials, to become “independent from Russia” and rely “more on like-minded countries”, as the Hon Di Stefano stated.

Undersecretary Di Stefano and State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch subsequently tackled the main points on the agenda of the upcoming Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, which principally concern the intellectual property of pharmaceutical products, fishing and farming subsidies, and Organization’s institutional reform. In respect of these points, Undersecretary Di Stefano deems it necessary to “facilitate the start of a negotiation as soon as possible”.

Lastly, Undersecretary Di Stefano recalled Rome’s candidacy to host Expo 2030 and illustrated to State Secretary Ineichen-Fleisch the specifics of Italy’s project which is focused on urban regeneration in the light of the green transition and digitalization. Italy’s candidacy is “essential to relaunch Europe after the difficult period of the pandemic and of the Ukrainian crisis”, Undersecretary Di Stefano concluded.

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