ROME, Italy, May 3, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- “Italy is second to no-one and must have a leading role in the international community in the Horn of Africa”. This was how Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, who is visiting Ethiopia, summed up the long discussions he had this morning with Prime Minister Meles Zenawu and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “Our two countries”, underscored Minister Terzi, “are linked by very strong traditions and by a future of political cooperation in terms of security and economic cooperation”, for which the outlook is extremely favourable. Terzi and his hosts in Addis Ababa discussed “all the hottest issues concerning this country's foreign policy and security. From the consolidation of the Somali institutions to the stabilisation process between Sudan and South Sudan, and the difficult question of Ethiopia-Eritrea relations”.
Stability against piracy
The head of Italian diplomacy and his Ethiopian interlocutors focused on the “major challenges that unite Italy and Ethiopia in combating terrorism and piracy”. And they did not neglect the “key issues directly concerning bilateral trade”, which has seen constant growth, or the many areas of economic potential. “If our two nations work together”, concluded Terzi at the end of the talks, “they can make a real difference to the stability of the Horn of Africa”.
Closer economic relations
“Economic relations between Italy and Ethiopia are grafted on to a strong growth policy that the government in Addis Ababa, through its five-year plan, is following with great determination”. Minister Terzi, who is accompanied by a large Italian business delegation, takes an optimistic view of the outlook for Ethiopia's development and the further potential for economic cooperation. The country, he underscored, “expects to go on developing, at a rate of more than 10%, over the next 5 years. It has great potential in sectors that have seen little development to date, for example industry, which should reach over 22% of GDP within 5 years”.
The strategic sectors on which to focus, in Minister Terzi's view, are energy, infrastructure, the agri-food industry and services. “Many of the business people accompanying me on this visit (from companies such as Eridania, Salini, Trevi and Geox) represent major players for economic collaboration between our two countries. There is a commitment to develop even further an already significant partnership”. The Italian Foreign Minister pointed out that “Italian exports to Ethiopia have increased by 150% since last year, with a significant level of imports too”.
Stage two: Mozambique
The second stage of Minister Terzi's visit to Africa is Mozambique, where he will be meeting Prime Minister Bonifacio Aires Ali and Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi. Italy's historic bonds of friendship with Mozambique date from the country's independence (1975) and even more from the mediation and signing in Italy of the Peace Agreement (1992) between Maputo and the then anti-government RENAMO guerrilla movement. The major investment opportunities that could spring from ENI's recent discoveries of enormous natural gas reserves is linked to the consolidation of these ties. The reserves could make Mozambique one of the world's leading natural gas producers, with Italy one its closest “interlocutors”.
Poverty, but prospects for development too
Mozambique is a country where, as in Ethiopia, the population still lives in poverty. In both countries, growth projections are based on sound evidence and the Italian business presence and bilateral trade are important factors, as is the need to invest in infrastructure. These conditions will create a favourable environment for the large business delegation that will be accompanying Minster Terzi.