Qatar and Italy are on track exploring “new grounds” and “new investment possibilities,” according to the editor of an Italian broadsheet, who also expressed optimism that there is “more room for growth” between the two countries.
Il Mesaggero editor Virman Cusenza, who was in the country recently, pointed out that Qatar and Italy "share longstanding economic, political, and cultural relations, as well as agreements and partnerships" in the fields of defence and food security, among others.
He said the visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Italy in November 2018 “was very symbolic from this point of view.”
“His Highness the Amir’s visit and meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella demonstrates a strong will to invest in Italy and Italy is a very good partner in Qatar, if not, one of the best in the world,” Cusenza told Gulf Times.
During the visit, His Highness the Amir and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte witnessed the signing of two co-operation agreements and several memoranda of understanding at Villa Doria Pamphili in Rome.
Among these agreements are a scientific and educational co-operation between Qatar University and Sapienza University of Rome, which aims to exchange information, experiences and lecturers, and joint implementation of scientific projects, especially through interaction in joint meetings and courses. Another agreement between Qatar Foundation and Sapienza University of Rome aims to consolidate and promote cooperation in the educational and scientific fields.
Cusenza also lauded the growing bilateral trade figures between Qatar and Italy. In the first six months of 2018, trade volume already stood at €1.4bn. He is optimistic that trade figures in 2018 would surpass the €2.3bn recorded in 2017.
As of November 2018, Italy has recorded a 26% increase in its furniture exports to Qatar, figures from Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in Doha revealed. From January to June 2018, Italian furniture exports to Qatar stood at more than €100mn, making it the second-largest export product after machineries, which grew by 2% in the same period last year.
Aside from machineries and furniture, the third largest sector in terms of Italian exports to Qatar is fashion, which saw an 11% growth, followed by the food and beverage (F&B) sector.
Cusenza also lauded the growth in defence relations between Doha and Rome. In October 2018, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, met with Italian Minister of Defence Elisabetta Trenta at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Rome.
Both officials attended the signing ceremony of the operational training agreement with the Italian side and the establishment of the national squadron of the NH90 helicopter in Italy.
“Italy is a reliable partner, not only for Qatar, but for every government. In terms of reliability, it won’t change in the future. These relations will grow stronger in the future, not only for economic reasons but probably for geopolitical reasons. Both countries need each other,” Cusenza added.