|Italian happenings: Casa Italia (Italy House), was officially opened in Ha Noi in 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. — Photo courtesy of Italian Embassy
I feel honored to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the found-ing of the Republic of Italy and the 42nd anniversary of Italian-Vietnamese relations.
The Italian and Vietnamese Governments are sparing no efforts to turn the historical friendship between our peoples into more dynamic and ambitious political, economic, cultural and educational co-operation. To achieve this, in 2013 we signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement.
Being strategic partners involves sharing ideas and innovative solutions to tackle today's and tomorrow's challenges. To this end, we have significantly strengthened academic exchanges, joint scientific research and interaction between our companies and Vietnamese universities.
This year four Memoranda of Operation have already been signed, including an agreement to set-up a training centre for textile mechanics. More agreements are also being finalised.
Trade and investment are also at the core of our relationship. Recently, there has been great progress in this sector. A significant surge in Italian investment in Vietnamese markets has been coupled with a growing interest from Vietnamese companies for Italian machinery, technology, and products.
In response, last year, bilateral trade reached US$4 billion and we are determined to meet the goal of $5 billion by 2016, as agreed upon by our Prime Ministers. Target sectors remain agro-food, textile and leather, fashion and design, infrastructure, energy and renewables and biotechnologies.
To harness the significant potential of Italian investment in Viet Nam, we count on the actions of many players – the Italian Embassy, Italian Trade Commission, Italian Chamber of Commerce, Joint Economic Commission and the newly-established Consulate General of Italy in HCM City.
This new office gets Italy closer to the southern provinces, and, through its visa services, makes it easier for Vietnamese to visit our country.
While business co-operation is a priority, we continue to nurture solidarity and cultural exchanges between our countries. In fact, Italy was one of the strongest advocates to initiate European aid programmes to Viet Nam following the war and is still a committed development partner.
Italian co-operation did not phase out, but adapted to Viet Nam's new challenges and growth targets. It is now running a 15 million euro ($16 million) to support small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
Each year, more and more Vietnamese choose Italy as their holiday destination. We hope that this year EXPO Milano 2015 (www.expo2015.org), a cultural, leisure and business exhibition dedicated to food and sustainability, will draw even more Vietnamese tourists.
However, Italy can also be discovered in the heart of Ha Noi in the promotional centre Casa Italia (Le Phung Hieu Street, Hoan Kiem District). Casa Italia hosts an extensive variety of events together with and for the benefit of our Vietnamese friends and partners.
These include language courses, master classes, book presentations, and fashion shows. Casa Italia is a showcase of Italian lifestyle inspired by the concept of the "piazza", the "market square" of Italian Renaissance cities, where citizens met, traded, discussed and exchanged views and experiences.
We would be honoured to welcome you at Casa Italia hoping it will spark your next trip to Italy! — VNS