KERALA

Italy keen on ties with Kerala



Staff Reporter

Italy's Ambassador to India is on a visit to the State

KOTTAYAM: Antonio Armellini, Ambassador of Italy to India, has evinced keen interest in the emerging ayurveda tourism and food processing industries in Kerala.

Speaking to media persons here on Tuesday, Mr. Armellini said he was in the state on a fact-finding mission as a precursor to the impending visit of the Italian trade delegation to India, scheduled for February. He has already had interactions with the Chief Minister and the Governor and would meet the business and trading community representatives in the coming days. Kerala has been one of the preferred destinations of the Italian tourists to India, the other being Ladakh, he pointed out.

Mr. Armellini was here to deliver his Diplomat Lecture at the School of International Relations and Politics at Mahatma Gandhi Univeristy.

Trade

The economic reforms in India have helped to create a new environment of trade, investment and technological cooperation between the two countries. Italy has emerged as the fourth largest export market for India in the European Union, Mr Armellini said. The trade, which now stands at $4.5 billion, is set to double by 2010, he said. Cooperation in the areas of infrastructure development and agriculture may hold the key for this growth.

According to him, Italy viewed India, along with China, as one of the fundamental markets. However, he felt that India, being an English-speaking nation, enjoyed a relative advantage over China in making use of the global environment in attracting foreign direct investment and also expanding into other economies. This advantage will be in place for the next 10 to 15 years, he said.

Commonalities

Earlier, delivering his lecture, Mr. Armellini said, referring to the commonalities between the two countries, India and Italy were two nations that had rich cultural heritage and this would help them to improve their relations in the coming days.

The political relations between the two nations have been traditionally been friendly without any major problems. Above all, the two nations shared fundamental values of democracy, civil liberties, human rights and rule of law. This would serve to strengthen and diversify bilateral cooperation in a wide variety of fields.

Reacting to a question raised by Mahatma Gandhi University Vice-Chancellor Jancy James, who presided over the function, Mr. Armellini said his Government would seriously look into the possibility of supporting a programme in Italian Language in the School of Foreign Languages, which the University was planning to start next year.

Raju K. Thadikkaran, director, School of International Relations and Politics, welcomed the gathering.

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