A further step on the road to creating a strategic partnership between Italy and Brazil. This is the significance of the 4th meeting of the Italo-Brazilian Economic, Industrial, Financial and Development Cooperation Council, which took place on 9 November 2009 in Brasilia.
The Council meeting was a valuable opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations with a country that is gearing up for a unique and perhaps unrepeatable period in its history. Brazil is organising the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. The discovery of enormous off-shore oilfields will make the country a net oil exporter. Its public accounts are in order and its very dynamic economic system (based, like Italy’s, on the real economy) has responded to the economic crisis better than other countries in the area.
So a country which, with its economic dynamism, its well-established political and social democracy and the presence of the biggest Italian community in the world (about 30 million), is the natural “platform” for our presence in South America. The agenda for the meeting thus included, in addition to the signing of 2 important bilateral agreements, an analysis of the most important dossiers in the sphere of economic and scientific relations between the two countries. On the Brazilian side, an illustration of current investment prospects for our firms under the impressive Growth Acceleration Plan (over 190 billion dollars earmarked, plus another 70 billion for the Football World Cup and the Olympics). And on the Italian side, an emphasis on the importance of reducing Brazilian import duties, a goal that the hoped-for agreement between the European Union and Mercosur (the South American free trade area led by Brazil and Argentina) might help achieve.
The preparations by the Italian Foreign Ministry ensured that the event was attended by high-level representatives of the institutions and the private sector. The Brazilian delegation included over 80 public sector representatives, led by the Political Under-Secretary from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, Vera Machado. And the Italian delegation, led by Secretary of State Scotti, with the participation of Deputy Minister Urso, together with the Director General for the Americas, Ambassador Giovan Battista Verderame, was composed of about 40 representatives of government departments interested in concrete industrial and investment collaborative projects. Italian universities, local authorities, trade associations and businesses (including the FS (the national rail company), Telecom and Enel Green Power) also attended.
The meeting was an opportunity to promote stronger, revitalised relations between Italy and Brazil on all fronts. In the margins of the Council, high-level bilateral consultations took place between under-secretaries Scotti and Machado, who discussed the most important issues on the current international agenda, not least in consideration of the growing role played by Brazil on the world stage.
The deliberate decision to arrange the 4th Council to coincide with our trade and economic mission made a strong impression on our Brazilian counterparts. They congratulated the Italian delegations on the coordinated approach taken by our institutional, entrepreneurial and banking representations. In fact, the “system-level” mission, led by Minister Scajola, began in San Paolo the same day as the Council. It was planned and organised jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our Embassy in Brasilia, Confindustria, the Italian Trade Institute (ICE) and the Italian Banking Association (ABI).
In his opening address, Secretary of State Scotti emphasised Italy’s intention to organise a series of major cultural events for the Year of Italy in Brazil in 2011. He also noted the Italian Government’s strong commitment to add new impetus to relations with Latin America as a whole. An intent that was confirmed by the decision to hold the 4th Italy-Latin America and Caribbean Conference in Milan in December 2009.
Lastly, the Council also saw the first session of the bilateral trade and investment monitoring mechanism, chaired on the Italian side by Deputy Minister Urso.
The 5th meeting of the Italo-Brazilian Council will take place in Italy in 2010, in tandem with the high-level bilateral consultations.