(fa fede il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address you again, at the closing of this productive Meeting.
After listening to the conclusions of each Panel by their respective Chairs, I realize that the main objectives of this Seminar have been widely achieved:
This Meeting represented – as we hoped – a most useful and timely opportunity for an exchange of ideas between relevant experts from Asia and Europe, while confirming a strong interest in addressing the challenge of financing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
As you know, it is not easy to bring together such a wide range of competent, high-level representatives from different parts of the world and, just looking at the list of speakers and participants who decided to be part of this event – by which I also include those who were planning to attend, shows us how much this issue is critical across Asia and Europe, for public and private institutions alike.
The increasing, political interest on the framework and working conditions of SMEs is also proven by the fact that, in addition to the Italian Government, this Seminar on ‘Financing SMEs in Asia and Europe’ was sponsored by three other partners of the ASEM Community, namely China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Therefore, and above all, I am delighted to witness that this Meeting has allowed some significant steps forward. Your discussions have generated many interesting ‘deliverables’ in terms of innovative suggestions, best practices and ‘policy recommendations’.
After the meeting, we will prepare and distribute a more extensive report on the entire proceedings. Yet, just by listening to some of the main findings which were briefly summed up by the Chairs, I already get a good sense and awareness of how much room for improvement and ground for cooperation actually exists on this topic.
In this regard, I was personally intrigued by the suggestion of setting up a new bi-regional instrument providing finance to SMEs which are active on a cross-border basis, including the possibility of engineering a specific public-private funding model, with adequate risk sharing agreements.
Nevertheless, next to these ideas, each Panel has provided some inspiring new proposals or policy recommendations that could be offered as an enriching ‘food for thought’ to the ASEM Governments.
The Italian Government will share the outcome of this Seminar on the occasion of the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Luxemburg next week, which I will personally attend as the Head of the Italian Delegation.
In addition, we look forward to the next ASEM Finance Ministers’ Meeting and the next ASEM Summit, which are both scheduled to take place in Mongolia next year.
In the meantime, I trust that this Meeting has been an excellent opportunity to make new personal encounters and to promote a mutual understanding between experts and officials operating in the field, from different countries of Asia and Europe. A mutual understanding which -as we hope – will continue to grow and develop though similar dialogue opportunities in the future, leading to an increased cooperation in the ASEM framework and to a greater ‘connectivity’ between the two Regions.
So, once again, let me thank all the speakers and participants for having made the effort and the necessary arrangements to be part of this event, as your participation signified and ensured the successful outcome of this Italian initiative.
And, finally, let me thank our partners -Bankitalia and the Istituto Affari Internazionali -for having supported and worked with us on this idea since the very beginning.