Ambassador of Italy to Việt Nam Antonio Alessandro has written for Việt Nam News on Italy’s National Day.
Today Italy celebrates the 76th anniversary of the 1946 referendum founding the Italian Republic.
After two years of pandemic it is again possible to celebrate it physically, by gathering, shaking hands, kissing and hugging. Our joy is undermined, though, by old and new conflicts in the world and their consequences, particularly in Ukraine, to which Italy expresses support and solidarity.
The Italian National Day is an opportunity to take stock of the Italy-Việt Nam strategic partnership and set new objectives for the future.
Bilateral trade has recovered to pre-pandemic volumes, making Việt Nam Italy’s largest trade partner in ASEAN with US$5.6 billion in 2021. Việt Nam’s export makes more than two thirds of this amount and is well integrated in the Italian value chains and supply system. Italian export to Việt Nam includes industrial equipment and consumer goods. There is room for further growth in both directions, especially in the agri-food sector, whereby Italy can provide machinery and technology for the modernisation of Việt Nam’s agricultural sector and allow it to benefit further from the EVFTA.
More than 150 Italian companies operate successfully in Việt Nam. They have shown an amazing resilience during difficult times and continue to impress for the quality of their product and the sustainable and responsible way in which they conduct their business. We see a switch in the new Italian companies coming to Việt Nam, from manufacturing to high tech and services. There is potential also for Vietnamese investments to Italy, something that the Italian authorities will be happy to welcome and facilitate.
Italy wishes to be part of the transformation of Việt Nam’s economy into a more sustainable, digital and high-income one, as outlined by the 13th Congress of the Communist Party of Việt Nam in February last year. To this end, academic and scientific exchanges continue to flourish. Our last review has listed 144 agreements in place between universities and research centres of both countries. Eleven joint research projects are being implemented with the support of both Governments.
As large export-oriented countries, Italy and Việt Nam share the same interests in preserving a free, open and rule-based multilateral trade system. We have in common the same commitment to regional cooperation, respectively within the European Union and ASEAN. Both countries rely on cooperation and solidarity to tackle global issues, as they have done during the pandemic providing each other with masks and vaccines. We also share the same sense of urgency on climate change as our territories are particularly affected by the consequences of global heating. Italian ODA proudly finances some mitigation projects in Việt Nam.
Italy and Việt Nam are also strong supporters of UNESCO and the preservation and valorisation of cultural heritage, having a high number of protected sites. Cultural relations are an important pillar of our friendship, that Italy wishes to further strengthen by opening an Italian Institute of Culture in Hà Nội. Creative industries are also promising, such as architecture and design, fashion, figurative and performing arts. Among Italy’s main initiatives at global level, on which to build further, I would like to mention the candidature of Rome to host World Expo 2030, with a very relevant theme: “peoples and territories: urban regeneration, inclusion and innovation”.
In all these areas Italy and Việt Nam cooperate effectively with many activities in place and more to be identified ahead of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year. This will be one of the objectives of the Italian Undersecretary of State Manlio Di Stefano’s visit to Việt Nam on June 7-9 , which follows the recent telephone call between the President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi and Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính.
The re-opening of visas and travels between our two countries discloses plenty of opportunities that Italians and Vietnamese are invited to grasp. The Embassy of Italy, the Consulate General in HCM City, ICE Agenzia, AICS, ICHAM and Uni-Italia are at the public’s disposal for promoting and facilitating people-to-people contacts and initiatives.
I wish Italian and Vietnamese friends a happy Festa della Repubblica Italiana and long live to Italy-Việt Nam friendship!