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INTERVISTA DELL’AMBASCIATORE LO CASCIO PER DIPLOMACY&COMMERCE

H.E. Carlo Lo Cascio, Italian Ambassador to Serbia: We boast excellent relations at all levels

Italy continues to be a staunch advocate of Serbia’s accession path to the European Union and we praised the commitment of the Government to implement crucial reforms. Our strategic partnership is also witnessed by the frequent institutional meetings and the dynamic economic relations, as well as the vibrant cultural and social contacts

“We have to unlock the great potential of our relations in new fields of cooperation, such as the green agenda, digitalization and infrastructure. To further reach out to the growing Italian entrepreneurial community, as well as the Serbian firms working with Italy, we decided to launch the “Sistema Italia” roadshow, with the participation of the Italian Embassy, the Italian Trade Agency, Confindustria Serbia and the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Given the success of the first stop of the tour in Vojvodina in October, we are planning more visits in other areas of Serbia where the Italian presence is particularly strong, so stay tuned!”, pointed out the ambassador.


What is the situation in Italy after the darkest period of the pandemic?

Italy paid a very high price for the pandemic both at social and economic levels. Today, one year and after its outbreak, we can look forward with hope and an optimistic view on the future. Our Country is indeed recovering at a faster and stronger pace than other EU partners. The very successful vaccination campaign against COVID-19 led to date to more than 83% of Italians over the age of 12 fully vaccinated and this remarkable rollout allowed to reopen the Country and rebuild better. These data are quite encouraging although the emergency is not over yet.

Moreover, our economy will grow by more than 6% in 2021 and in the first 9 months of the year, the Italian export has reached already 332 billion euros, hitting the highest-ever level in our history. The EU funds of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) will also be invested to ensure long-lasting and sustainable growth.

“Our economy will grow by more than 6% in 2021 and in the first 9 months of the year the Italian export has reached already 332 billion eur”

At the same time, we are ‘back on track’ also on the international stage: Italy held the G20 Presidency and the COP26 Co-Presidency, achieving key results in the fields of climate change, global access to vaccines, international taxation and gender equality. The “Made in Italy” brand has grown by 12% this year. Not to mention our extraordinary successes in sports and competitions. 2021 is a new beginning for Italy, our golden year!

How would you rate the overall cooperation and relations between Italy and Serbia, both political and economic? How important is to have good and stable relations?

We boast excellent relations at all levels. A sincere, deep and long-lasting friendship has proved even stronger during the hardest moment of the pandemic and there is still room for further development.

Italy continues to be a staunch advocate of Serbia’s accession path to the European Union and we praised the commitment of the Government to implement crucial reforms. Our strategic partnership is also witnessed by the frequent institutional meetings and the dynamic economic relations, as well as the vibrant cultural and social contacts.

From these premises, I think that we can make a quality leap in our relationship.

“Sistema Italia’’ has recently visited the town of Subotica in Vojvodina. What was the main goal of this visit and do you plan more of such visits?

Italy has been investing in Serbia since decades and is continuing to do so. Our business presence is big in size (more than 1.600 enterprises with Italian share), diversified in sectors (i.e. automotive, agriculture, textile, information technology, banking and insurance) and well geographically distributed all over Serbia. To further reach out the growing Italian entrepreneurial community, as well as the Serbian firms working with Italy, we decided to launch the “Sistema Italia” roadshow, with the participation of the Italian Embassy, the Italian Trade Agency, Confindustria Serbia and the Italian-Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Given the success of the first stop of the tour in Vojvodina in October, we are planning more visits in other areas of Serbia where the Italian presence is particularly strong, so stay tuned!

 

Italy is one of the largest foreign investors in Serbia. What should be Serbia’s priorities in the next period if we want more Italian companies to come and invest here?

Italy keeps believing in the Serbian market because of its favorable business environment and good investment climate and that is why Italian companies continue to come here. At the same time, our entrepreneurs are witnessing some challenges that need to be addressed: the shortage of workforce, the labour market mismatching, the need to improve competitiveness and to reverse brain drain. In addition to this, like every other Country, Serbia is facing the consequences of the global increase in the price of energy and raw materials.

“Italy keeps believing in the Serbian market because of its favorable business environment and good investment climate”

We recently discussed these issues with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, which has shown once again the willingness of the Serbian institutions to find common solutions. Besides this, I can assure you that more and more Italian companies are coming to invest here or are planning to expand their current business, further contributing to Serbia’s development for mutual benefit.

What will be the main challenges in Italy and Serbia in the post-COVID period and in terms of overcoming the crisis?

First of all, we will not forget the help of our Serbian friends during the pandemic. As for the post-COVID period, I believe we need to take stock and move forward. Our common challenge will be maintaining this positive momentum and turning this situation into an opportunity, cooperating to ensure inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth. We have to unlock the great potential of our relations in new fields of cooperation, such as the green agenda, digitalization and infrastructure.

 

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