Antonio Tajani’s Riyadh mission. The Italian Foreign Minister visited the Saudi Arabian capital to consolidate further the political and economic ties between the two countries. He met with his counterpart, Minister Khalid Al Falih, to exchange dossiers and discuss how Italy can fit into the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan.
- “There is a positive climate and a desire to work with Italy” were FM Tajani’s first remarks after his talks with the authorities, noting that the KSA had signalled its desire to increase its companies’ presence in Italy and vice versa.
An expanding entente. The Italy-Saudi Arabia relationship has been steadily improving over the past years, both in terms of breadth and quality. Rome lifted its ban on weapons sales to Riyadh in May, and the government defended the decision on Wednesday as FM Tajani was readying to travel to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, the economic interchange is on the rise – and both capitals are putting in the work to drive its growth.
- The FMs’ meeting followed the Italian-Saudi Forum, held in Milan in September, where Rome and Riyadh finalised a deal on direct investments and vowed to “support dialogue between institutions and businesses interested in promoting investment between the two countries.”
- The bilateral relationship can already boast a solid interchange, which has grown to €11.5 billion in 2022 – a 40% year-on-year increase.
Vision 2030 (and Italy). Italy is already engaged in Saudi Arabia’s ambitious programme to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel, explained FM Tajani. Italian companies work across the energy, industrial and infrastructure sectors, where WeBuild is contributing to the construction of Riyadh’s metro. Rome also intends to develop new partnerships in innovative sectors such as renewable energy, tourism and entertainment.
- “We support the internationalisation of our companies; the government accompanies and follows them,” said the minister while meeting Italian companies operating in the country.
- There was a strong representation of Italian players, including Leonardo, Elettronica, Fincantieri, WeBuild, FS, Italconsult, Proger, Manens-Tif, Tenaris, Marie Technimont, Gruppo San Donato and Almaviva.
Think G-7. FM Tajani recalled Italy’s upcoming presidency of the Group in 2024, which will allow it to play “an important role in the dialogue with the other major countries of the world” and contribute to ushering in global stability – especially in the Indo-Pacific, African, and Persian Gulf area, remarked the minister. “We intend to play a leading role, also due to our nature as Italians, because we can and must do so in this part of the world as well.”
- Rome and Riyadh are aligned on Ukraine (with the latter bringing 40 capitals, including Beijing, to acknowledge Kyiv’s claim to its territorial integrity in Jeddah) and countering migratory flows by investing in countries of origin (along the lines of Italy’s Mattei Plan) to promote local stability through economic growth.
- That also entails efforts to turn Italy into a major energy hub in the Mediterranean.