On July 9, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio co-chaired the 21st session of the Italy-India Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) together with the Minister of Commerce and Industry of India, Piyush Goyal. The virtual meeting took place a few days after Minister Di Maio’s talks with his counterpart Mr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign and Development Summit, that was held in Matera (we wrote about it here). The meeting showed the two countries’ commitment to revive and consolidate bilateral relations after the difficult period of the pandemic.
Commercial relations between Italy and India have been growing steadily for years, except for last year. Exchange between the two countries focuses on five key sectors identified in the 2020-2024 Action Plan that was adopted during the Summit between the two Prime Ministers at the end of 2020: these sectors are the green economy, agro-food industry, infrastructure, digital and manufacturing/lifestyle. However, there is considerable potential for further growth, considering that India, with its bursting demographic strength and a rapidly expanding domestic market, is destined to take on a leading role in the world economy.
As stated in a note from the Italian Foreign Ministry, during the joint session with Mr. Goyal, Mr. Di Maio pointed out that, despite the pandemic, several Italian companies continued to invest in various strategic sectors of the Indian economy, such as automotive, food processing and energy transition. This positive result was possible also thanks to new institutional tools, such as the Fast-Track Mechanism and the Permanent Digital Platform for Economic Cooperation, that the two countries put in place in order to facilitate market access and foster investment.
The two Ministers also agreed to deepen cooperation in the field of food processing and to explore new opportunities in the textile and leather sectors. To this end, they decided to set up two sectoral working groups. Ministers Di Maio and Goyal also agreed on the importance of deepening the Italy-India partnership as well as joint investments in third countries.
Mr. Di Maio then focused on the commitment to develop a strong partnership on innovation and start-ups, stressing the importance of Indian participation in the upcoming G20 Innovation League. The Innovation League will take place on the sidelines of the G20 Trade Ministerial meeting that will be held in Sorrento on October 12. Welcoming the outcome of the recent EU-India summit in Porto, Mr. Di Maio reiterated Italy’s support to reviving negotiations on the free trade agreement between India and the European Union, while expressing his hope for the rapid conclusion of an agreement on investment protection and the protection of Geographical Indications.
The Joint Commission ended with a session on energy transition attended by the heads of some of the major Italian and Indian companies operating in the sector. While stressing the high potential of a strategic partnership between the two countries in the field of energy transition, Mr. Di Maio emphasized Italy’s commitment – through the G20 Presidency and the partnership on COP26 with the United Kingdom – to raise the level of ambition of the international community on the fight against climate change and accelerate the spread of renewable sources. Finally, Mr. Di Maio expressed his strong appreciation for the leadership shown by India through the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Italy was among the first countries to join the organization.