OBG talks to Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Italian Foreign Minister

Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Italian Foreign Minister

Interview: Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata

How have recent events in the MENA region demonstrated the need for further EU-GCC cooperation?

GIULIO TERZI DI SANT'AGATA: The recent crises in the MENA region have led to enhanced cooperation between the EU and GCC countries. Nonetheless, an even broader dialogue on key political and economic issues is required. This dialogue should not only centre on crisis management, but also on long-term development strategies for both regions. Such an approach is crucial for the further development of the GCC countries in the wake of the Arab Spring. Together with our EU partners, Italy is committed to playing a primary role in these discussions.

What lessons might the GCC member states learn from the recent challenges faced in the eurozone?

TERZI: The progress among GCC countries towards a Customs union, a single market and a shared currency has been inspired by the European integration process. Consequently, the GCC member states stand to profit from the experiences of Europe, including the lesson that a common currency requires a common fiscal – and not only monetary – policy.

What role have Italian firms played in the development of the Kuwaiti energy industry?

TERZI: Italian enterprises have been actively involved in Kuwait’s energy sector since the Kuwaiti independence. In the last few years, tenders assigned to Italian firms have been growing in number and importance, symbolising a sound and strong partnership. Strengthened political cooperation has helped achieved these unprecedented results. We are committed to following this path, for we perceive political engagement as the best way to increase commercial cooperation.

In which sectors do you see potential for Italian investors under the National Development Plan?

TERZI: We praised the efforts of Kuwaiti authorities in approving the National Development Plan, an outcome that will pave the way for further progress in the country. Italy is determined to participate and contribute to this development, and we believe that we can be involved in tenders and joint programmes in areas such as infrastructure development, skills training and national defence. Italian enterprises have already established a permanent presence in Kuwait, and the products of Italian industry have attracted considerable attention from the local business community. Still, we believe there is immense untapped potential for even stronger business ties through political dialogue.

What kinds of opportunities exist within the Italian economy for Kuwaiti investors?

TERZI: The opportunities offered to foreign investors by the Italian economic system are many. The Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has already established a permanent dialogue with some important representatives of the Italian entrepreneurial community. In 2009, I invited Bader Al Saad, the KIA’s managing director, to Rome, and from that moment onward the political and commercial relations between our countries have benefitted from reciprocal activities. The visits to Italy by Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser in November 2009 and by the Emir in May 2010 demonstrate this fact. It is on this foundation that Italy will soon propose several projects to develop in collaboration.

How has Italy worked to resolve differences and strengthen ties between Kuwait and Iraq?

TERZI: We are proud to have excellent bilateral relations with Kuwait and Iraq. With Baghdad we have ratified a treaty of friendship and cooperation, and with Kuwait we have witnessed an impressive increase in political dialogue, culminating in the Emir’s visit to Rome. While Iraqis recognise the crucial role played by Rome in their country’s democratisation, Kuwaitis appreciate Italy’s efforts to protect their nation from foreign invasion. Having formed robust partnerships with both countries, Italy is well-positioned to bring the two sides together for dialogue rather than confrontation.

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Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata

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The Report: Kuwait 2012

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