“India offers an oasis of opportunity with 1.4 billion people aspiring for a better quality of life.” With these words, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, welcomed Italian dignitaries from politics, industry and civil society yesterday during a reception in his honour hosted at the St. Regis Hotel by the Embassy of India in Rome on Wednesday. The Italian government was represented by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Edmondo Cirielli with Vice President of the Senate Maurizio Gasparri, President of the Senate Commission on European Affairs and President of the India-Italy Parliamentary Friendship group Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, Senators Marco Scurria, Matteo Gelmetti, Beatrice Lorenzin and Lavinia Mennuni also in attendance. Former Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli and former Italian Ambassador to India Antonio Armellini were also present.
Business leaders such as Fabio Maria Lazzarini (ITA), Vincenzo Nicastro (Piaggio Aviation), Stefano Santinelli (Ansaldo), Roberto Luongo (ICE), Luigi Traettino, Carlo Logli (Titagarh-Firema) and others from SNAM, TIM Sparkle and Banca Intesa demonstrated the potential which the Italian business community sees in India. Goyal was accompanied by a delegation of Indian entrepreneurs from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a 125-year-old not-for-profit association of Indian industry that represented industries from tobacco, defence, and textiles to energy transition and technology, including the chairman of ITC Ltd. Sanjay Puri and the Managing Director of the world’s largest mobile company Airtel, Ranjan Mittal.
Goyal is on a two-day visit to Rome after a visit to Paris, underlining the new strategic importance of Italy to the Modi government. His visit comes less than 40 days after Italian Prime Minister Meloni visited New Delhi in March. Apart from Commerce and Industry, Goyal also directs the Ministry of Textiles. He also is the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. This ministry manages around half a million fair-price shops in India that sell highly subsidized food to India’s poor, the world’s largest government-run network.
After landing in Rome on Wednesday, Goyal met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani for a bilateral meeting at the Farnesina, where they discussed the possibility of increasing investments from India to Italy and Italy to India, especially in the fields of defence and energy transition. Goyal and Tajani presided over a closed-door India-Italy business forum on Thursday, which brought together business leaders of both countries, repeating the highly successful meeting they had hosted in New Delhi in March during Prime Minister Meloni’s visit. Tajani underlined that this was a “common strategy”. Goyal spoke of a “common vision” between two countries that share the values of democracy with a great history and aspirations for a great future.
After the business forum, Goyal and the Indian delegation were received by the Minister for Business and Made in Italy, Adolfo Urso, at his office, and Minister Urso interacted with the Indian entrepreneurs encouraging them to invest in Italy and spending time understanding their concerns. Goyal ended the institutional part of his visit with a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Matteo Salvini. They discussed investment, infrastructure, mobility and ways to leverage expertise on both sides to enhance the quality of lives of people of both nations.
On Thursday, Minister Goyal also met individually with business leaders, including Monica de Virgiliis (SNAM), Salvatore Bernabei (Enel Green Power), and Alois Virag (Nayara Energy). Goyal’s objective was to continue the momentum set by Prime Minister Meloni’s visit to India and discuss potential growth in business relationships between countries. India plans to invest $1.4 trillion in infrastructure development in the next ten years, opening several opportunities for Italian companies in the sector in India. At the end of India’s financial year in March 2023, Indian exports had risen to $770 billion, a new export record for the country. With the world’s democracies increasingly wary of China, India not only offers itself as a new, fast-growing market but also as a safe, transparent destination for “friend-shoring” and manufacturing.
Senator Giulio Terzi (Brothers of Italy) summarized that Minister Goyal’s visit was another step in the quickly developing India-Italy relationship started by Prime Ministers Meloni and Modi between two democracies working together to allow humanity to prosper and grow in equilibrium and harmony.