The following is the full text of the interview.
Reporter: How do you evaluate the relations between Vietnam and Italy since the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic ties 50 years ago, especially since the upgrading of the relationship to a strategic partnership in January 2013?
Ambassador Antonio Alessandro: I would use the words of the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, who has just released a warm message of congratulations on the 50th anniversary of Italy – Vietnam diplomatic relations. President Mattarella congratulated the two countries for their relationship, "strongly rooted in history" and at the same time "directed with confidence towards the future." These words express very well the idea that the 50th anniversary is not only a great achievement, considering the long journey that both countries have made since the seventies, but also a platform to let our friendship grow further and face together the great global challenges, like climate change in particular.
President Mattarella also underlined that the institution in 2013 of the bilateral strategic partnership has further expanded the scope of our cooperation providing a more concrete approach and new opportunities for growth, development and mutual understanding for our countries.
Reporter: What are prospects for the Vietnam – Italy cooperation? What should the two countries do to further promote their relations?
Ambassador Antonio Alessandro: Italy and Vietnam can intensify the exchange of delegations: high level visits, business forums, cultural exhibitions, and joint academic research.
Secondly, the two countries should further promote the flow of trade and investments. Vietnam is the first trade partner for Italy in the ASEAN region, with 6.2 billion euros of exchanges in goods and services. The strength of our respective economies and their level of integration in the global value chain provide room for further growing, especially in high tech sectors and advanced technology.
Thirdly, we should increase the tourism flows in both directions, as discussed recently during the embassy's presentation of the Ryder Cup, the most important international golf tournament that will take place in Rome in September this year.
Finally, Italy and Vietnam are members respectively of the E.U. and ASEAN. The two countries should increasingly give a regional perspective to their relations. I would like to recall that Italy became a development partner of ASEAN in 2020, during the Vietnam's Presidency of the South East Asia Organization. The E.U. and Vietnam, on their side, enjoy an intense and articulated relations. These regional connections add new opportunities to our bilateral friendship.
Reporter: The E.U. – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has opened up many opportunities for Vietnamese and Italian businesses. Do you have any recommendations for the two countries to utilize such opportunities to boost their trade and investment ties?
Ambassador Antonio Alessandro: The EVFTA is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever signed by the E.U. The agreement progressively eliminates almost all duties and tariffs, both for goods and services. Moreover, several provisions cover crucial domains such as rules of origin, non-tariff barriers, public procurement, labor conditions and environmental standards.
Italy and Vietnam are committed to implement the EVFTA provisions in full and according to the schedule. In particular, we are working closely with the E.U. to ensure a greater access of our products and services to the Vietnamese market, notably in pharmaceutical and agrifood. Italy is a significant importer of many Vietnamese products, from coffee to seafood, from garments to electrical equipment. With the entry into force of the EVFTA, these products have to comply with E.U. regulatory and quality standards in order to access the European market. Italy has a lot to offer to Vietnamese businesses to improve the quality and safety standards of their products.
Reporter: What are major events in the series of activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties this year?
Ambassador Antonio Alessandro: The Embassy is supporting the Saigon Philarmonic Orchestra in setting up the first Opera production after several decades. The "Cavalleria Rusticana," by famous composer Pietro Mascagni, will be performed at the Hanoi Opera House on April 15-16. This would be one of the highlights of our program, which also includes an exhibition on industrial manufacturing, a show of contemporary ballet by the Italian company "Artemis Danza" and the Italian film festival. Our program is a living plan and we disclose events and initiatives as we develop them with our partners in Italy and Vietnam.
Reporter: Thank you so much!
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