Italy and India share decades old diplomatic ties and have witnessed significant progress over the past few years with Rome emerging as a key partner in Europe. The virtual summit among the leaders of the two countries last year marked an important milestone in the bilateral relations. Both countries signed a Joint Declaration and Plan of Action to prioritize areas of cooperation and strategic goals for the period 2020–2025. They agreed to strengthen cooperation against common global challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, and coordinate closely at the multilateral level including the G-20 for which Italy is the current chair. India and Italy agreed to work together on a sustainable and inclusive post Covid-19 recovery, finding solution to the climate crisis and identifying new areas of economic partnership. In the light of growing relationship, Ananta Aspen Centre held a digital session on “Italy and India, partners in sustainability and multilateralism” with H.E. Mr. Vincenzo De Luca, Ambassador of Italy to India chaired by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa, Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and Former Indian Ambassador to Italy.
Currently, Italy and India are important trading partners in key sectors such as finance, railway development, fashion industry, and automobile manufacturing, where Italian FIAT-FCA has a consolidated supply chain in India. In 2019, trade volume between the two nations reached 9.52 billion euros, with Italy emerging as India’s fifth- largest trading partner in the EU, while Italian Foreign Direct Investment to India is expected to reach 2 billion euros in 2020.
About 600 Italian companies are active in the Indian market as the current emphasis is on advanced manufacturing, automotive industry, energy transgression, infrastructure development. Italy emerges as an ideal partner for India in circular economy, pollution mitigating technologies, automation and food processing chain that includes food preservation processing and logistics.
In the field of space technology, collaboration between India and Italy have expanded and there is more potential to widen the sharing and distribution of technologies. The cooperation in renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, IT sector and Start-ups have been deepening.
Defence cooperation has been an important pillar of Indo- Italian relations. Both countries have experienced a new phase of the longstanding relationship and there is potential to strengthen the cooperation in defense industry with Italy sharing its expertise in technology.
Both countries also align on the idea of multilateralism. Recently, Italy shared a vision on a new and more effective multilateralism based on a new reality of the multipolar order with the Government of India. Italy along with India is trying to reinforce WHO because there is a need for a strong multilateral organization to tackle the challenges. Also reform of the WTO is in the direction of a fair equitable and inclusive organization for trade, which also involves more access to the global market. The G20 agenda will be focusing on 3 pillars- people, planet, and prosperity. In the last few years Italy has joined all the most relevant Indian initiative in the multilateral dimension of indo-pacific like Indian Ocean Rim Association, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and also the international solar alliance.
Over the years, people-to-people ties between India and Italy have strengthened especially with a focus on preservation of cultural heritage. Education is now emerging as a strong pillar of cooperation fostering high academic exchanges. In 2020, the number of Indian students in Italian University increased to 4844.
Amidst the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 Italy extended its support to India by promoting collaboration between the healthcare sectors of two countries. Italy further assisted India by providing oxygen and pharmaceutical products. Moreover, Italy has pledged 300 million Euros for the COVAX facility, 200 million for climate and health in poor countries, 15 million doses for COVID vaccines for low income countries. In the effort to promote solidarity and friendship.
Both countries agree to create a Centre for research on new treatment for pandemics on genomics and on other promising fields of research to be better prepared for future global pandemics. Therefore, India and Italy realise the growing synergies between them and aim to enrich the bilateral relationship in coming years.
This digital session was a part of a series on “Ambassador Series”
Please watch the full session on YouTube