Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has reiterated Italy's support for the G20 summit to be held in Korea next year. "We guaranteed that Italy will support the organization of the G20 summit in Korea in 2010," he said in an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul, Tuesday.
This year, Italy is the chair of the G8, a group of the world's largest economies that meets every year to discuss global challenges. Frattini advocated the G-14 format, an extended structure of the G8, introduced during the L'Aquila summit in Italy last June. "The G8 is no longer sufficient to tackle global challenges," he said.
On the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Frattini said the accord will be inked in the near future.
He said it is a matter of weeks for the EU and Korea to sign the deal. Negotiations were concluded in July. "It will be mutually beneficial," he stressed.
Asked about the resistance to the FTA from the Italian automobile industry, the minister answered, "Some doubts were raised by Italian companies. The Italian government has been explaining to them that while it's true that the FTA will open the door for more cars produced in Korea to come to European markets, it's also true that more Italian products will be exported to Korea."
For example, he said, "Our export of wines suffers a lot because of the high level of tax, and we have tough competition from Chilean and South African wines in Korea. When we have the FTA, it will pave the way for more exports of Italian products to Korea."The minister was accompanying President Giorgio Napolitano on his state visit to Korea. Napolitano was the first Italian head of state to visit Korea since the two countries established diplomatic ties 125 years ago. He spoke of his personal attachment to the mountains in Korea, though he didn't have time to climb them himself. Frattini called for more promotion of Korea in Italy."About the high mountains in Korea, nobody knows in Italy. And very few Italians are coming to Korea," he said. He seemed to be pleased with the positive perception of Italy in Korea, which he attributed to the dedicated work of the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute.
The cultural institute opened an art exhibition in Seoul, Tuesday. During his stay, President Napolitano viewed the exhibits. The President also toured Songdo in Incheon, where the Milano Design City Project, a joint venture between Korea and Italy, is underway.