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Italy and South Africa strengthen cooperation

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti with South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe 
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Rome and pays visit to Reggio Emilia

On Tuesday 9 October, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti met South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in Rome.

The two reviewed their bilateral relations in a very friendly atmosphere and discussed a wide range of opportunities to strengthen cooperation between Governments, businessmen, scientific institutions and Universities alike.

The two Countries determined that the creation of new partnerships is the most efficient tool to advance cooperation between them and bring mutual benefits. The ever increasing presence of Italian investors and manufacturing companies in South Africa will promote the creation of jobs and foster skills locally, while providing the Italian companies with access to a growing market and a platform from which to explore the opportunities of Africa in a mature environment.

“The two Statesmen identified skills-transfer and training as important tools to guarantee the sustainability of their partnerships and production. It is an effective way to address relations between the two Countries that increasingly view each other as strategic partners, able to build on a very solid foundation, including that laid by the dynamic Italian community in South Africa, as well as the support provided by Italy toward the struggle against Apartheid”, said Italy’s Ambassador to South Africa, Vincenzo Schioppa.

From left to right: H.E. Vincenzo Schioppa, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa, H.E. Thenjiwe Mtintso, Ambassador of South Africa to Italy, H.E. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,  H.E. Graziano Delrio, Mayor of the City of Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Ways to increase bilateral trade were also discussed. Trade exchanges between the two Countries have increased in both 2010 and 2011 (increasing by +29% in the past year alone). Italy’s strength lies in exporting mechanical products to South Africa (accounting for nearly 50% of its exports). These are used by local producers, Italian firms such as Ferrero (chocolates) and Southern Wind Shipyard (luxury sailing yachts) already active in South Africa. "We want more Italy in South Africa and more South Africa in Italy", says the Ambassador.

Special attention was paid to scientific co-operation by both Deputy President Motlanthe and Prime Minister Monti.  An Agreement on Scientific and Technological Co-operation, in place between the two Countries since the year 2000, and an Executive Programme signed in 2010 singled-out specific sectors for concrete collaboration. Italy (through INAF, the National Institute for Astrophysics) was one of the Countries on the Board that allocated the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) project to S.A. and Australia.

The meeting ended with Prime Minister Monti accepting the invitation by Deputy President Motlanthe to pay a visit to South Africa next year February, in order to explore further opportunities.

Prime Minister Monti and President Motlanthe also exchanged views on the situation in both Africa and Europe and discussed multilateral issues.

Deputy President Motlanthe and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, were then invited by Confindustria, the Confederation of Italian industries (a group of some 140.000 member companies), to a working luncheon. They explained SA’s Development Plan on Infrastructure and the investment environment and opportunities in South Africa to a select group of CEOs of leading Italian companies. The CEOs expressed their keen interest in further expanding Italy’s presence in South Africa.

Deputy President Motlanthe and his delegation then proceeded to Reggio Emilia where a celebration marking the 35th Anniversary of the Solidarity Pact between City of Reggio Emilia and South Africa had been organised by the local Authorities.

In 1978 Reggio Emilia organised and hosted the "National Conference of Solidarity with the Peoples of Southern Africa in the Struggle against Racism, Apartheid and Colonialism”. Indeed Reggio Emilia was the only City to be invited to the celebration in 1994 inaugurating Nelson Mandela as the President of South Africa.  

In the words of Deputy President Motlanthe, “Reggio Emilia made a significant contribution to the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe, the people of Mozambique, the people of Namibia and the people of South Africa. In the case of the anti-Apartheid struggle, this commitment was further reflected in the signing of the Pact of Solidarity with the ANC on 26 June 1977, which became one among many milestones in the relationship between Reggio Emilia and the liberation movement.”

The ANC was represented, at the 1977 Conference, by its then President, the late Oliver Reginald Tambo. During the same year the city published the Italian edition of the ANC's official publication, “Sechaba”.  Nelson Mandela's first book, 'The Struggle is My Life', was also translated into Italian.

“These acts of international solidarity no doubt constituted a formidable force against the system of apartheid and contributed to the eventual demise of the system”, said Deputy President Motlanthe to the City’s Mayor, Graziano Delrio, and to the friendly crowd that had gathered in the wealthy yet socially engaged city, home of the oldest cooperatives in Italy . He added, “Our visit to Reggio Emilia today is in part to thank you, thank you very much; for your selfless efforts and support during our struggle. We wish to assure you that your efforts were not in vain. We will do our part in "defending the principles of freedom, justice and non- discrimination” as the Secretary-General of the UN implored us to do”.

 Issued by the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria





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