Diplomatic Correspondent: Italian Ambassador to Bangladesh Enrico Nunziata has said his country is interested in a long-term agreement with Bangladesh to supply LNG though the current situation in Europe allows collaboration on a short term basis.
“Of course, we are much more interested in a long-term agreement. The situation in Europe is a bit changed now. For the time being only, it is a possibility of collaboration in the short term,” he told.
The ambassador said his country wants to participate in energy sector cooperation and their company, ENI, is already shortlisted by Petrobangla for selling the LNG (liquefied natural gas) in private market. “We have worked a lot on that in Italy. So we have already some other sources of supply that can substitute the supply that we use quite from Russia. So when this will be again at a certain level, of course, we can start to export LNG in other markets,” he said. Regarding Italy’s interest in offshore exploration, ambassador Nunziata said, “Yes, there are discussions but these are still at a level of proposal. We have to carry on with these discussions and see what will be the possibility there.”
The Italian ambassador said they are discussing a possible memorandum of understanding on mobility and migration, specially the content of this memorandum. “We want to go further in our cooperation on migration issues. In particular, creating and enlarging the existing legal channels or legal pathways for migration while stemming the irregular one,” he said.
The envoy said the two countries have to deepen the cooperation for preventing and fighting against the irregular migration, trafficking and so on.
Ambassador Nunziata remembered one of the deliverables during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Italy in 2020 – reinsertion of Bangladesh in the list of countries whose nationals can benefit of a quarter for work.
“We have issued more than 12,000 visas for work from 2021-2022. Then there is a family reunion, business, and so on. But I’m focusing now on work. This new flow will call then families and so on. So this will carry on,” he said.
The ambassador said prevention of irregular migration is very important. The prevention means also creating awareness, organizing campaigns on the risk of the irregular migration.
“We are opening new legal channels. So you have to benefit of these agreements, of these new possibilities, and try to follow that path,” he said.
There is a proposal on draft of a memorandum of understanding on security in general, the envoy said, noting the collaboration among the police forces of the two countries.
“So, we want a stronger cooperation. We want to promote exchange of best practices, exchange of trainings, talk to each other to know each other much better at the level of police forces,” he said.
A Solid Relationship
Ambassador Nunziata said the relationship between Italy and Bangladesh are excellent and there are spaces for increasing the collaboration in some specific sectors. “This relationship is solid and has shown resilience during these years.”
On the trade, he said they have a very good commercial exchange that has doubled in 2022 compared to 2021 – more than 53% growth.
“So during the 2022 and now 2023, we have already reached and increased the level of pre-pandemic time,” he said.
Talking about collaboration in the defense industry, he said there is possibility of collaboration and transfer of know-how as well on a win-win basis. “So this is another important sector.”
The ambassador said they are in pipeline to have a memorandum of understanding in the cultural sphere for programmes of cultural exchanges.
“I don’t know when it will be signed. It’s not finalized, but we are really at the latest step to finalize an agreement in exchange of cultural programmes,” he said.
Traditionally, Italy has invested in the textile and garment sector but they are willing to provide expertise for the tannery sector, in particular for the sustainability of this industry and improve the quality of the treatment of leather to export to the European Union market.
On shipbuilding, the ambassador said they can build bigger ships for the defense or for the coastguard. “I mean this know-how that Bangladesh doesn’t have yet. Together we can do more on that in the shipbuilding as well as in other sectors.”
“I think that there are many areas of possible collaboration, especially in the blue economy. Italy is a dialogue partner of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). So we can already have collaboration in the blue economy within the IORA,” said the ambassador.
There are areas like security field, mobility, environment and climate change, he said.
He said it is very positive that Bangladesh published their own vision of the Indo-Pacific that match very much also with EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
He said the European Union will send an exploratory election monitoring mission in July and Italy as a member of the European Union, is supporting the idea.
“And then if there will be the conditions for an observation mission from the European Union, of course we are expecting. It’s a very positive development, the fact that the Election Commission of Bangladesh invited an exploratory observation mission from the European Union.”
The ambassador said the quality of information is the key for the freedom of press and fighting against disinformation.
The readers of the two countries will be benefitted with the flow of quality information – news that arrives from Bangladesh to Italy and from Italy to Bangladesh, he said.
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