VIEWPOINT | BILATERAL RELATIONS
Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the full range of the India-Italy partnership and discussed ways of advancing cooperation in trade, technology and culture
|By Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd) |
Former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command, IAF
In response to the invitation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, paid a oneday official visit to India on October 30 this year. The visit was a part of the ongoing celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Italy. This was the very first visit to India by the Italian Prime Minister after he assumed charge in June this year.
THE TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was accompanied by a high level business delegation as his visit was also linked with the 24th edition of the Technology Summit in New Delhi, co-hosted by India and Italy. This event was organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). The two leaders held extensive bilateral talks as well as delivered their valedictory addresses in the final session of the Technology Summit. This 24th edition of the Technology Summit focussed on a wide range of subjects namely, clean technology, renewable energy, information and communication technology (ICT), health care, aerospace, education and cultural heritage. The objective of the Technology Summit was to facilitate technology transfer, joint ventures, R&D and promote interaction between industry and research institutions in India and Italy. The Technology Summit was attended by representatives of the government, industry, academia, research institutes, scientific community and related agencies from both India and Italy. A number of experts from both the nations spoke at the Technology Summit on a variety of subjects ranging from astrophysics, gravitational waves, mobile network, Internet of Things (IOT), e-infrastructure and bio-robotics, among others.
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS BY PRIME MINISTER MODI
In his address at the Technology Summit, Prime Minister Modi announced the launch of the next phase of the India-Italy Industrial Research and Development Cooperation programme which will enable the Indian industry and research institutes to develop new products. Talking about the importance of technology, Prime Minister Modi said that India has made technology a medium for attaining social justice, empowerment, inclusion and transparency. He went on to say that the Government of India was focussing on developing technological temperament along with scientific temperament among the citizens. Highlighting achievements of the Indian Space Programme, Prime Minister Modi said that it is an example of innovation with quality and that India is now able to successfully launch space satellites belonging to several nations including those from Italy. India’s record of success in space exploration showcases the nation’s capability of creating innovative solutions at low cost. Prime Minister Modi also expressed happiness at the enhanced level of cooperation between India and Italy in the field of Life Style Accessories Design (LAD). He added that special focus will be given on the Leather Sector as well as Transportation & Automobile Design (TAD).
STRENGTHENING OF TIES
Amongst the nations of the European Union, Italy is India’s fifth largest trading partner today with annual bilateral trade turnover in the financial year 2017-18 that stood at $10.4 billion. India is currently host to 600 Italian companies and investments by Indian companies in Italy have been on the rise, thus strengthening the economic links between the two nations. Visit of the Prime Minister of Italy to India is expected to further strengthen ties between the two nations as well as enhance collaboration in the future.
During their meeting, the two Prime Ministers reiterated that ties between India and Italy are based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, respect for human rights and territorial integrity of States. They reviewed the full range of the India-Italy partnership and discussed ways and means of advancing cooperation in trade, technology and culture. As for enhancing economic cooperation between India and Italy, it was decided by the two leaders to set up a CEO forum guided by a Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation. In order to increase two-way investments, the decision arrived at was to create a fast-track mechanism and boost ties in key sectors such as lifestyle accessories design, transportation and automobile design, energy and life sciences. Both the nations are working on deepening bilateral cooperation in a range of sectors including investment, trade and aerospace.
The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and recommended strong measures and deterrent action
The two leaders reiterated that ties between India and Italy are based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, respect for human rights and territorial integrity of the two nations. They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen mutual understanding and expand the range of bilateral engagement to promote peace, stability, economic progress and prosperity of the two countries. The two leaders agreed to launch the next phase of the bilateral India-Italy Industrial Research & Development Cooperation Programme that will enable industries, enterprises and research institutions of both countries to partner seamlessly in co-developing new products, prototypes, processes by converting “know-how” into “show-how” in areas covering advanced materials; smart manufacturing; clean and green technologies as well as technologies for cultural heritage.
COOPERATION IN THE REGIME OF DEFENCE
In the regime of defence cooperation, the leaders accepted the need for regular defence exchanges between the defence organisations of the two nations. They took note of the ninth India-Italy Joint Defence Committee meeting which took place in Rome on May 16 this year as also the recently concluded India-Italy ninth Military Cooperation Group meeting in Rome in the second week of October, again this year. These meetings saw the two sides agreeing to the bilateral cooperation plan for the year 2019. Both sides recognised the need to broad base defence ties and make them enduring and mutually beneficial. India invited Italian defence equipment manufacturing companies to invest in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme of the Government of India and to collaborate with Indian companies for design and construction of military hardware.
The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The leaders asserted that strong measures and deterrent action need to be taken against terrorists, terrorist organisations and all those who encourage, support and finance such nefarious activities. They condemned all kinds of state support to terrorists including cross border terrorism and providing safe haven to terrorists and their network. The two leaders agreed to strengthen their cooperation to counter terrorism through multilateral fora and called upon all member countries of the United Nations (UN) to effectively implement the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant UNSC resolutions relating to prevention and suppression of terrorism and terrorist financing. The two leaders also agreed to work together for implementation of The Hamburg G20 Leaders’ Statement on Countering Terrorism and to further cooperate in this regard at the upcoming G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. The Indian side proposed to host the second India-Italy Joint Working Group on Combating Terrorism in New Delhi at a mutually convenient date in the first half of 2019.
The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen global non-proliferation efforts. Prime Minister Conte congratulated India on its entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), The Hague Code of Conduct, Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group. He reiterated Italy’s support to India’s intensified engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) which strengthens global non-proliferation efforts.