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Governo Italiano

Economic Cooperation


Economic Cooperation

Institutional Aims

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate General for Global Affairs (DGMO) promotes Italy's participation in multilateral economic and financial organisations. It operates on two levels:

  • upstream”: defining, in cooperation with the other ministries and the private sector, Italy's involvement in the drafting of policies and programs launched by those organisations;
  • downstream”: monitoring the implementation of national interests and objectives by international framework organisations.

The DGMO also:

  • supports, along with the other ministries and the diplomatic-consular network, the process of internationalisation of Italy's productive system, making the most of the potential of "economic diplomacy";
  • updates the involvement of Italy's embassies and permanent missions to international organisations with a view to creating new collaboration in the form of multi-stakeholder partnerships (governments, private sector, civil society) in order to achieve shared goals in the sectors of economic, social and financial development; and
  • examines the opportunities provided by new important transversal world themes (information and communication technologies, environment, transport, energy, aerospace, credit and financial brokerage, etc.) and identifies ways of creating strategic industrial projects and alliances.

Activities in multilateral economic-financial forums



  • promotes the ministry’s vision within the agenda of the G8 Summits [The Foreign Affairs Sous Sherpa (FASS)] by integrating the thematic, sector and geographic input of  the its various facilities.
  • ensures its presence in International forums operating in economic and financial spheres (UN-ECOSOC; UNCTAD; OECD; INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, WORLD BANK, CFC-Common Fund for Commodities);
  • actively monitors – along with the authorised technical ministries -  International forums dealing with air, sea and rail transport (ICAO, IMO, OTIF);
  • contributes –along with other authorised ministries – to formulating Italy’s negotiating position in the context of priority Italian foreign policy interests and objectives  ;
  • promotes – in the context of multilateral forums – the involvement of the private sector and civil society, with a view to marrying the need for economic growth with those of safeguarding the quality of life and respect for human rights and the environment within a sustainable development framework;
  • is actively involved in multilateral initiatives to combat illegal flows of funding to piracy, particularly in the context of the UN Contact Group, where  it chairs the Working Group 5 on financial aspects.

Italy’s Collaboration with the OECD

Italy collaborates intensively with this Paris organisation through the active presence of a large number of Committees.

The nature of the themes these Committees deal with is highly complex, and the questions concerned are: economic (competition, agriculture, businesses, services, local development and trade); financial (financial markets, insurance, pensions, investments and taxes); social (education, employment, health and migrations); as well as those associated with governance (corporate and government reforms and the fight against corruption), sustainability (environment, energy, fishing and sustainable development), cooperation and innovation (biotechnologies, ICT and other scientific areas).
This collaboration is in keeping with the OECD’s objectives of creating high economic growth levels within a context of sustainable development, for the benefit also of some non-members. Indeed, an outreach initiative is under way consisting of a process of enlargement and strengthened cooperation with some countries (5+5) who have shown their intention to follow such a path and whose relative applications are currently being reviewed by the various OECD Committees and bodies.

Major importance was attributed to OECD Secretary General Gurria’s visit to Italy on 6 February 2012, who met with Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi in the context of meetings with other Italian government representatives the same day (Prime Minister Monti, Minister for Public Administration Patroni Griffi, Minister for Labour Fornero and Minister for Economic Development and Transport Passera). Discussed during the meetings were the reforms under way in Italy, strengthening of OECD and G20 cooperation, the process of the organisation’s enlargement and strengthened cooperation with emerging economies, as well as the OECD’s commitment to fighting corruption. 

Trade and Development

The DGMO coordinates activities in the context of Trade and Development, particularly with regard to the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference for Trade and Development), which consists of participating in the meetings of the main WTO (Quadriennial Ministerial Conference, Trade and Development Council) and UNCTAD (Trade and Development Board), for the purpose of asserting the European position – in which context that includes the protection of Italian interests – on behalf of more effective and concrete development policies. In light of recent changes in the international economic system, the role of UNCTAD will be to support the development of South-South cooperation, ensuring a balance between the energy needs of many countries and environmental sustainability, as well as the reduction of poverty, as stated in the Millennium Development Goals.

Transport Safety

The Directorate contributes to defining priority areas of intervention in order to ensure the safety of travellers—also in consideration of the safety issues that have arisen in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11—in connection with the activities of various organisations and international forums such as the IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). It also has a pro-active role in the efforts of various national-level inter-ministerial committees on transportation safety.

Collaboration within international organisations on Commodities

In a context in which mineral and non-mineral raw materials have gained renewed importance both for trade and as a precious opportunity for growth and development for many developing countries, the activities of the Directorate run parallel to other technically competent ministries in the coordination of Italy’s participation in various organisations, study groups and funds dealing specifically with commodities, some of which include:

  • the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC), International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), and International Tropical Timber Organisation/International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTO/ITTA);
  • the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC);
  • The International Study Groups for Lead and Zinc (ILZSG), Nickel (INSG) and Copper (ICSG).

In agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development, the foreign ministry launched a “Raw Materials Observatory” in January 2012, in light of a need that has developed over recent years in the sectors of strategic base products and raw materials. The goal is to activate a network of contacts that will make an immediate interface possible between the two ministries and companies, in support of Italian industrial and commercial interests in strategic sectors.

Other International Organisations

The Directorate also monitors a series of international organisations operating in the sector of services and special production:

  • UPU—The Universal Postal Union 
  • WMO—World Meteorological Organisation 
  • WTO—World Tourism Organisation, particularly important for a country like Italy with such a major interest in tourism, and in the context of which a wide range of tourism-promotion projects in developing countries (ST-EP projects) are financed through the Italian Development Cooperation. 
  • WCO—World Customs Organisation
  • OIV—International Organisation of Wine and Vine, newly headed up by an Italian expert in the field (Federico Castellucci) after sixty years under French leadership, and whose 2008 General Assembly meeting is scheduled for Verona. 

Italian Participation in International Economic and Financial Conferences

The Foreign Ministry’s tireless commitment to the main bodies of the United Nations (ECOSOC and the General Assembly) and its specialised agencies for economy, trade and development, has led it to help draft the proposal for a cycle of major conferences. These events - the Millennium Conference, the Third Brussels Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the Rome Summit on Food Safety, and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development - have marked the life of the international community over the last three years. Based on that work, the Directorate is helping to prepare for implementation of the Action Plans and Declarations adopted, including launching the multi-stakeholder partnerships (governments, NGOs, civil society and private sector) needed to turn written commitments into concrete actions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also involved in preliminary preparation of the new legislative and institutional framework to manage the new forms of collaboration amongst UN institutions, the World Trade Organisation and international financial institutions, as well as the business world.

International Debt

The activity of debt restructuring is implemented by the Paris Club, the multilateral forum of 19 of the world's chief official creditors with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as regional development banks, UNCTAD and other international organisations taking part as observers.
The Foreign Ministry leads the Italian Paris Club delegation negotiating and finalising multilateral rescheduling agreements and related bilateral agreements of application. It also follows the question of international debt in the United Nations and the European Union.

  • It oversees Italy's financial cooperation in the international community's efforts to deal with international debt, both at bilateral level (Law 209/00 and its Rules of Implementation) and multilateral level (IMF, World Bank, European Commission, regional development banks). 
  • It oversees application and outcome of Law 209/00 ("Measures for Reduction of Foreign Debt of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries"), ensuring implementation of the co-called enhanced HIPC Initiative. In that framework, Italy has taken a vanguard position, unilaterally deciding to go beyond the agreed commitment, providing 100% debt relief for both eligible and non-eligible debts, also increasing financial resources freed from debt relief that beneficiary countries can set aside for the fight against poverty.

International Agriculture and Food pole of the United Nations (FAO, IFAD and PAM)

The Foreign Ministry has taken major steps towards the innovative repositioning of Italy in multi-stakeholder partnerships promoted by the United Nations. Proof of this lies in the Memorandum of Understanding for International Cooperation in the Agriculture and Food Sector signed in 2002 by the then Italian Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister and by the Directors General of FAO, IFAD and PAM. The operational nature of the MOU is obvious from its choice of issues for future cooperation:

  • training in the agricultural and agro-industrial sector; 
  • sustainable rural development; 
  • improvement of agriculture, animal husbandry and fish production; 
  • help in food development and emergencies, including food and  nutritional safety; 
  • improving production, processing and marketing.

Within this framework the DGMO, in conjunction with the DGCS, has been working on drafting an organic and univocal  policy to the UN’s Roman “hub”, through the greater involvement of other ministries concerned (especially the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agricultural Policies) and by convening periodical inter-ministerial meetings.

The Directorate has also undertaken to promote the visibility of the presence in Italy of those UN organisations and Italy’s commitment to the struggle against poverty, above all through the official celebration of World Food Day, thereby carrying forward efforts to raise public awareness that each year involve more and more public and private institutions and bodies.

The Directorate has drafted and activated an action plan for obtaining the Secretariat of new UN organisations connected with the activities of those already located in Rome.

Intellectual Property, Intangible Assets, Protection of Intellectual Property

The Italian Delegate for Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights and his office supervise Italy's relations with all the international organisations, particularly the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO, a UN agency with headquarters in Geneva), the European Patent Office (EPO, with headquarters in Münich) and with the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM, with headquarters in Alicante). Their purpose is to prepare agreements and directives in the field of intellectual property with regard to:  patents (European Community, PCT); trademarks (and signs and models for public use); copyrights (and related rights); geographic indications (according to the World Trade Organisation's TRIPS Agreement); and the fight against international piracy and  fakes.
This activity also involves the participation in community coordination on all matters concerning intellectual property and is administered together with the Ministry for Economic Development (patents and trademarks), the Ministry of Cultural Assets (copyright and related rights) and the Ministry for EU Policy (EU patents).

Environment and Sustainable Development

The decade marked by the two great UN Summits: the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) defined the new philosophy that international economic growth must be shaped to keep development from neglecting the needs of social balance and environmental protection, which are to be considered an integral part of that process.
This growing awareness, encouraged by in-depth studies such as the Stern Report on the negative consequences, even on the economic plane, of non-sustainable development, has led to negotiating many multilateral instruments especially within UN spheres.
Three major agreements on the environments call for regular periodical international meetings to examine progress made and draw up policies for the future on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Combating Desertification. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in February of 2005 and is the tool by which the Convention on Climate Change is implemented. The first meeting of the parties to the Protocol (MOP I) was held in Montreal in late 2005 and was followed by MOP II in November 2006, which adopted the decision to begin a "Review" of the Protocol itself in 2008.
The EU is increasingly becoming a leader in the struggle against climate change. The Commission recently proposed to establish unilateral limits on the production of greenhouse gases, regardless of whether an agreement on the future of the Kyoto Protocol is reached. It also has supported for some time now the creation of a specialised UN environmental agency (currently the UN only has a environment programme—UNEP).  It should also be pointed out that the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer continues to successfully foster the elimination of chemical substances harmful to the ozonosphere.
With regard to sustainable development, the international community negotiates new policies within the framework of the UN (General Assembly, ECOSOC and the Committee for Sustainable Development).
Also to be highlighted at the regional level is the 1995 Alpine Convention promoting the sustainable development of the entire Alpine region. The latest Conference of the Parties to the Convention appointed an Italian Secretary General, Marco Onida.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs participates with the Ministry of the Environment in the definition of Italy's negotiating position, ensuring the coordination of both multilateral and bilateral preparatory meetings with other countries on environmental issues, and cultivating relations with the international organisations involved, in addition to supporting Italian candidates for key positions. Finally, together with the other government ministries concerned, it ensures absorption into Italian legislation of the international regulations agreed upon with other countries.



  • ensures, together with the Ministry of Economic Development, Italian participation in the activity of the sector's multilateral bodies (the International Energy Agency (IEA), affiliated with the OECD, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);
  • encourages Italy's participation in international energy initiatives;
  • promotes and supports compatibility between environmental and energy policies at an international level.

Space and New Technologies

In association with the Italian Space Agency - ASI and competent departments (in particular, the Ministry of Universities and Research) - the DGMO helps anchor Italy’s scientific and technological abilities to multilateral projects of strategic importance (the International Space Station, the European Galileo satellite navigation programme; development of greater competitiveness of European carriers to orbit satellites; etc.). This type of anchoring is directed towards national industry (to foster involvement of SMEs), increasing scientific and technical return and strengthening the European space effort. The forthcoming ad hoc agreement between the European Space Agency and the EU Commission will soon open this office up to new possibilities for the international development of the European space industry. In this context, DGMO works with the international bodies concerned with space, such as the UN and other international organisations concerned with satellite activity (IMSO, EUTELSAT, ITSO, EUMETSAT), telecommunications and the Information Society.

International Regulations on the exportation of Dual-Use Materials

On the level of international regulations the DGMO participated with a special Non-Proliferation Coordination Unit in the various multilateral forums (i.e. of common laws and bodies that internationally regulate specific materials) where policies for the control of the transfer of civilian or military “dual-use” goods and technologies,, with the aim of preventing their being used in the production of weapons of mass destruction or even conventional weapons liable to be stockpiled in geographic areas of crisis or tension capable. The directives approved in this setting are then absorbed by Community Regulations that make them national law for Italy (as for all other EU members) The DGMO participates in the special Italian inter-ministerial body whose task is to approve or reject issuance of authorisations to export dual-use goods.

Italian Preparation and Participation at the G8 Summits

Under the authority of the Sherpa (currently the Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister), and in conjunction with the Finance Sous Sherpa, the G8 Sous Sherpa is in charge of coordinating with the other ministries concerned and all the MFA Directorates General on presenting Italy's viewpoint in the context of the G8 Summits (USA, Japan, Canada, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Russia + EU, represented from 2010 onward by the Presidents of the European Council and Commission). The Sous-Sherpa discusses and negotiates the texts of the Final Summit Declarations along with other texts and reports published by the G8.

The G8 (G7 before the inclusion of Russia) has been meeting for 30 years now. In the early years its agenda was mainly economy-focused, but beginning in the 1980s it gradually began to broaden, first examining international political crises and then trans-national issues. Italy has always played a pro-active role in the G8, as witnessed by the many initiatives promoted over the years and the success of Italy’s G8 Presidency in 2009.

Some of the G8’s recent high-impact initiatives include:

  • the Strengthened HIPC debt cancellation initiative (Cologne, 1999);
  • launch of the Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis;
  • the Plan for Africa in support of NEPAD (Genoa, 2001);
  • support for the UNESCO/World Bank “Education for All” programme (Kananaskis, 2002);
  • the MDRI initiative for cancelling the debt of poor countries to international financial institutions;
  • the Action Plan on Climate Change (Gleneagles, 2005);
  • the Action Plan on Energy Security (St. Petersburg, 2006);
  • launch of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (L’Aquila, 2009);
  • launch of the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation’ (IPEEC) (L’Aquila, 2009);
  • launch of the International Technology Platform, to be launched by the International Energy Agency to encourage the dissemination of ‘low-carbon’ technologies(L’Aquila, 2009);
  • launch of a mechanism for verifying maintenance of pledges taken at previous G8 Summits (L’Aquila, 2009).

The gradual extension of G8 analysis to sectors not strictly economic/financial has resulted, over the years, in additional and equally important initiatives.

Analysis and Planning

Linee Guida OCSE destinate alle Imprese Multinazionali riveduta nel  2011

The DGMO has an office in charge of preparing working documents and studies. Examples are:

  • assessment of developments and problems related to the new international financial architecture and global governance;
  • analysis of Italy's new institutional methodology for facilitating participation of Italian businesses in corporate social responsibility initiatives; OECD (Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility); United Nations (Global Compact); G8 (stances promoted at the latest G8 Summit, particularly that of L’Aquila); EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative);
  • preparation of support strategies through the diplomatic network for the use of immigrant remittances as an instrument in the economic development of their countries of origin;
  • development of synergies between the banking world and Italian businesses involved in internationalisation;
  • planning of innovative intervention approaches, in conjunction with the federation of cultural services, to the economic and tourism-related enhancement of Italian cultural assets.

Support for Internationalisation of the Italian Productive System

Through its business support office the DGMO is Italian economic diplomacy’s focal point. The office supports the activities of the Economic Offices of the Embassies and Consulates and acts as intersection for the business support efforts in Italy of ministries, business organisations, Parliament and the university system.
The services offered to businesses through Italian economic diplomacy are listed on the page “Services to Businesses” of this website.

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