ROME: Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani believes there is “ample room” for his country to further strengthen its partnerships with all Gulf nations.
Tajani, who is also Italy’s deputy prime minister, was on Sunday due to meet with the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi.
He told Arab News that his visit was “another step toward a stronger, more successful and mutually beneficial cooperation” between Italy and the UAE.
He said the UAE was the first country in the Gulf that Italy had worked with on establishing “a strategic framework for a partnership,” adding that as his country’s top trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, the UAE was “a central actor within the enlarged Mediterranean area.”
The minister noted that both nations were “firmly committed to promoting a global approach to the migration phenomenon, in the awareness that the fight against irregular flows and human trafficking requires a shared effort by all the countries concerned.”
He said: “Furthermore, we have been in constant contact with the UAE leadership on the main regional dossiers, starting from Libya and Tunisia, two countries that are undergoing particularly complex phases where we intend to play a leading role in identifying sustainable long-term solutions.”
On the economic front, Tajani pointed out that the Italian government intended to boost bilateral cooperation under the terms of an agreement signed with the UAE in March.
In 2022, he added, the value of bilateral trade between Italy and the UAE was around 8 billion euros ($8.74 billion), and Italian exports rose at a record pace.
Jewelry remained the leading sector, followed by machinery for industry, electrical equipment, agri-food products, and cars, while the Italian entrepreneurial presence in the UAE was also solid.
“Around 600 companies are operating there in the energy, infrastructure, and transport sectors. There are huge opportunities we want to seize for new collaborations, especially in the fields of innovation, space, and environmental sustainability,” Tajani said.
He highlighted the participation of Emirati Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri at the Investopia Europe event in Milan on May 19, an initiative launched by the UAE government in 2021.
“This initiative represented a very important opportunity for Italian companies to open up to new investment proposals and enter into agreements with the most important UAE sector leaders.
“My visit to Abu Dhabi and the meeting with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan is another step toward a stronger, more successful and mutually beneficial cooperation.
“Our commitment to stability and security is highly appreciated in the region. We are a credible interlocutor and even compared to our other European partners we feel special, as we often receive requests for more Italy there,” he added.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government recently relaunched relations with all Gulf countries.
Tajani said: “Prime minister Meloni had a telephone conversation with the Saudi crown prince, we received the emir of Qatar in Rome, and we are consolidating our relations with the UAE, our top trading partner in the MENA area.
“There is ample room to further strengthening our partnerships with all the countries in the area, in the economic, cultural, scientific, and technological fields, and in the sector of renewable energy and green transition,” he added.
The objectives, he noted, could be achieved “by deepening our friendship and mutual understanding with those countries, which also involves the progressive strengthening of contacts among our peoples and civil societies.”