Minister Bonino’s mission to Kuwait and Oman is a new, important diplomacy for growth initiative. Politics has paved the way for revitalised economic collaboration with two countries rich in energy resources and which wish to diversify their economies. The Minister’s message is that it is now up to Italian entrepreneurs to embark and build upon this route.
In Kuwait City, the Italian delegation led by Foreign Minister Emma Bonino took note of the interest shown by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) in increasing investment in Italy and building upon its partnerships with Italian companies, including in terms of technology and training, exchanges, and to open up trade to gas also. KPC expects to be producing 4 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2020, and could make a significant contribution to Italy’s economic recovery.
Italy-Oman: room for cooperation in many sectors
In Oman, Minister Bonino handed on a message from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, inviting the Omani authorities on an official visit to Rome. She underscored that “Together, Oman and Italy can draw up and implement an ambitious strategy that could become a model for the entire region, with more open trade, higher investment, more projects and more cultural exchanges. Such a model would also become the base from which to promote dialogue and share values of pluralism and respect for diversity”.
Oman wants to diversity its economy to areas other than oil, starting with a complex infrastructure plan that aims to connect up the country through a network of ports, airports, roads and railways. In these sectors, Bonino underscored that “the Omanis view not just Italy’s big companies but also our small and medium-sized enterprises as an important point of reference”. There is room too to strengthen cooperation in many other sectors, such as training, culture, tourism and the environment. Minister Bonino concluded the visit with a word to the Italian businesses taking part: “Now it’s up to you”.
Massimo Rustico, coordinator for foreign affairs of the Italian Construction Industry Association (ANCE), observed that “our Omani friends have an enormous need of know-how, because, with the exception of 3 or 4 major groups, the country’s industrial fabric is composed of small and medium-sized enterprises”. For this reason, ANCE plans to organise a mission, with the help of the Farnesina.
Maria Donata Gentile, Vice President of Assafrica & Mediterraneo (the division of Confindustria, the main Italian employers’ federation, covering African and the Mediterranean), is on the same wavelength. “An extraordinary opportunity has opened up, one which Italy needs. Our goal is to support small and medium-sized enterprises to enable them to operate in synergy with local counterparts in the region”.