India’s defence partnership with Italy, one of key European states and member of G-7, is being revived and got a major boost during Nov 6 Summit. Elaborating on achievements of the Summit, Italian envoy to India Vincenzo de Luca told ET’s Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury that Italian defence firms are ready to explore possible avenues of cooperation in the field of joint production or technology transfer.

He also emphasised that Rome wants to foster a stronger cooperation between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean as part of its Indo-Pacific vision.

1. It was a landmark summit. 15 pacts and new areas of cooperation. What does it mean for Indo-Italy partnership.
The Virtual Summit between President Conte and Prime Minister Modi marks an important milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries. The two leaders had a thorough exchange that ranged from global, regional and bilateral issues. They focused on further enhancing economic relations and strengthening cultural and scientific ties. The true added value of the meeting was the adoption of the Joint Declaration and the Plan of Action which contains the priority areas and strategic goals on which our bilateral partnership for the period 2020-2025 will be based upon. As far as our cooperation in the multilateral arena is concerned, we have a very important opportunity in the next two years, as Italy and India will hold consecutive Presidencies of the G20. In this context, we committed to coordinate our activities and set common priorities to strengthen the impact and relevance of our legacy.

2. The two PMs referred to Indo-Pacific partnership. What are Italy’s plan for a Indo-Pacific strategy.
A sustainable economic recovery after the Covid crisis will be achieved only through the activation of solid and reliable global supply chains and enhanced connectivity. In this framework, the Indo-Pacific region will play a fundamental role, since through its sea-lanes a great deal of the world’s trade and energy resources exchanges are operated. The Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean overlap, connecting seamlessly Europe, Africa and Asia. For this reason, many actors are interested in ensuring that the connection among these regions is built on a rules-based international order, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment and freedom of navigation.

Last 9 September Italy became Development Partner of ASEAN with the purpose of contributing to any initiative aimed at facilitating the cooperation between Europe and the Indo-Pacific for the sake of stability, security and prosperity of all the countries concerned. Moreover, thanks also to the Indian support, Italy has recently joined the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) as a Dialogue Partner. Again, our purpose is investing in the blue economy sector and foster a stronger cooperation between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

3. The Defence partnership is being revived. What are new areas including joint production in India in pipeline ?
The success of the 6 November Italy-India Virtual Summit is underpinned by the conclusion of 15 agreements. Some of those are in the defence industry sector. In particular, our national champion in shipbuilding, Fincantieri, inked two MoUs with Cochin Shipyard Ltd on design, shipbuilding, manufacturing and repair/refit. There are also other Italian companies with world-class expertise that are already in partnership with Indian counterparts and there are others that are leaders in Aerospace, Defence and Security that would be ready to explore possible avenues of cooperation in the field of joint production or technology transfer.

4. How enthusiastic are Italian companies about Make in India program and increasing their investments here
The Make in India program opens many opportunities to Italian companies. There is a strong potential to further strengthen our economic relations and promote investments both ways. This was acknowledged also in the High Level Economic Dialogue at the level of CEOs that was held at the end of October, prior to the Summit. We need to encourage our “national champions” to interact between each other, unleash the untapped potential of our economic ties, and explore new areas of cooperation, especially in high tech, green economy and renewable energy, infrastructure and food processing. In this context the MOU signed between CassaDepositi e Prestiti and the NIIF will also provide a tool to support this interaction through innovative financial schemes.

5. What role can India play in Mediterranean region and will Italy be Indias principal partner in that process
EAM Jaishankar participated last year in Rome MED, Italy’s flagship conference committed to addressing the main challenges of the Mediterranean. His intervention was insightful and inspirational and proved that there truly is a seamless link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Basin. We are looking forward to India’s contribution also to this year’s edition. As I said before, connectivity will be a key factor in addressing the challenges that lie ahead in a post-Covid scenario.