Romano Prodi was the last Italian Prime Minister to visit India in February 2007. An Italian Prime Minister arriving in India after 10 years is considered a diplomatic success by South Block. Italy is an important power in Europe and is a strong trading partner of India. In the E.U, Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.
The visit was much needed to give the necessary push to the stagnant ties which suffered a blow after the marines row which erupted in 2012.
The strain in India-Italy ties had negative repercussions on Delhi’s relationship with European Union. With American economy not looking very promising, India looks at EU with renewed hope and expectations.
Gentiloni while meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the capital on Monday signed six important pacts. The agreements were on fields of railways sector safety, energy and promoting mutual investments, among others.
PM Modi in the meeting stressed scope for Italian companies to participate in the flagship programmes of the his government such as the project of smart cities and infrastructure avenues.
Both countries are expected to boost cooperation in science and technology partnership.
With around 150 Indian companies operating in Italy and around 400 Italian companies in India, the Italian Prime Minister hoped both countries can and will do better. Also the count of Indian origin people living in Italy is nearly two lakhs.
Prime Minister Gentiloni was accompanied by his wife and a 15-member Italian CEOs delegation.
In a Special Address on “Italy, the EU and India: A strong partnership in a time of global challenges” at an event organised by Observer Research Foundation and the Embassy of Italy, PM Gentiloni underlined the importance of inclusive growth. While replying to a question from the audience, he also said that both Italy and India are together in opposing increasing trade protectionism, as it is not in the interests of both the countries and the global trade.
“There are many sectors in which Italy and India can benefit from each other’s talents and expertise, from infrastructure to agrifood, from machine tools to energy and green technologies.” Gentiloni said while highlighting the sectors both countries can work to strengthen ties.
On refugee migration to Europe from war-torn countries in Middle East, Gentiloni stressed the need for a common migration policy for Europe. “Italy saved tens of thousands of lives at sea. The global phenomenon of migration sees us in the frontline. On this we need increasingly multilateral approaches.”
Gentiloni also described the North Korean threat as a serious one.