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Undersecretary of State Manlio Di Stefano’s official visit to the United States (25-28 April 2022)

Undersecretary of State Manlio Di Stefano’s official visit to the United States ended yesterday after holding meetings with institutional and private actors in Washington and Houston from the 25th to the 28th of April.

In Washington, Undersecretary of State Di Stefano held political consultations with Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce at the US Department of Commerce, and with Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs at the Department of State. At the meetings, Hon. Di Stefano reaffirmed Italy’s firm “conviction to increase pressure on Putin through new sanctions, also in the energy sector,” and underscored the importance of solidarity and the need for coordination among allies in order to “contain the economic and social consequences of the war and of the sanctioning measures” in Italy and Europe. The Undersecretary said: “Now is not the time to raise import duties and barriers between friendly Countries; we instead need teamwork on strategic issues such as the development of resilient value chains and the implementation of investments in technology-intensive industry.” In Hon. Di Stefano’s opinion, it is necessary to collaborate with Washington to single out new investment opportunities and create a freer global trading system that is better integrated and grounded on new rules.   

The United States are Italy’s top commercial partner outside the European Union, with trade totaling 65.2 billion euros in 2021, fully recovering the losses caused by the pandemic crisis and outperforming the values recorded in 2019, a record year for Italy’s exports. Moreover, according to the latest available data, the stock of Italian foreign direct investments in the United States amounts to almost 43 billion euros. The numerous Italian enterprises present in the US market mainly operate in the infrastructure, energy, fashion, agrifood and pharmaceutical sectors. Further collaboration opportunities are offered in the sustainability, green transition, and circular economy sectors – in which Italy vaunts a high level of specialization – as well as in high-tech sectors in which the US are world leaders.

During his visit, Hon. Di Stefano met with the major US players operating in the energy and space sectors. In Washington, Undersecretary Di Stefano attended a meeting with LNG Allies, an association of US liquefied natural gas producers. His words: “Europe and Italy are experiencing a serious energy crisis and the Italian Government is moving to quickly single out alternative gas supplies to those of Russia”, not only as a short-term emergency measure but also in view of achieving the decarbonization targets set for 2040 and 2050. He added: “We are having very operational discussions with the United States, which supplies us with approximately 10% of our liquefied natural gas imports (accounting for 1.35% of our national gas needs)” with a view to “assuring Italy a relevant part of the US’s additional LNG exports to Europe recently agreed between President Biden and President Von Der Leyen”. Undersecretary Di Stefano then had fruitful meetings in Washington and Houston with major American companies operating in the aerospace sector, including Axiom, Blue Origin and Voyager Space, to “discuss new partnerships in the launching, research, and space stations of the future”. Lastly, Undersecretary Di Stefano attended a meeting at NASA, an agency with which Italy vaunts long-standing solid relations. Thanks to the excellence of Italy’s aerospace industry and to its relations with NASA, “the Italian flag appeared in the most important space missions in history. Over the next few years, we will be going back to the Moon together and we will explore Mars through the Artemis, Lunar Gateway, and Mars Sample Return programs”, Undersecretary Di Stefano announced. “Space is much closer to us than we imagine. If we think of telecommunications, navigation, meteorology, and intelligence, we can understand the extent to which space technologies can impact the everyday life of each and everyone of us. In all this, Italian space industries – with the support of our institutions – maintain a global leadership position,” he pointed out.  

In the course of his visit to the United States, Undersecretary Di Stefano also met with the representatives of the Italian community in Washington and Houston. “I appreciated the significant quality and professionalism of our community in Washington which, according to the latest AIRE data, counts more 8,000 people,” said Hon. Di Stefano. He went on: “These fellow Italians feel a strong sense of belonging to Italy and, over the years, have assumed eminent positions in all sectors of life in the United States, contributing to enhance the prestige of Italy in the Country. It is also through their activities and their indissoluble ties with Italy that bilateral commercial relations continue to achieve extraordinary results. In respect of the Italians residing in the State of Texas – almost 14,000 people according to AIRE data – with their “knowledge, know-how, and their very high professionalism, they actively contribute to relevant American economic and research sectors”, and their activities reflect the Country’s “vocation for technology and innovation” that boasts prestigious international research centers. The work of the Italian community in the United States “is for us a reason of pride and represents a precious instrument through which to deepen and reinforce bilateral cooperation between our two Countries,” he concluded.