Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed India’s full support to Italy and assured medical and other emergency supplies to help fight the pandemic during a phone chat with his counterpart Giuseppe Conte.Mr Modi said India will extend all assistance and firmly stands behind Italy in the fight against COVID-19. He said India is also combating the disease and both countries could learn from each other’s experience in restraining the deadly virus.
Italy saw an overwhelming number of COVID-19 infections and deaths since the virus entered the country in late January. According to its health department, over 200,000 people were infected and around 30,000 of them have died. PM Modi condoled the loss of lives in Italy while commending the courage shown by its citizens during adversity.
The two leaders also discussed counter-measures needed to overcome the health and economic crisis brought by the pandemic to the world. Italy is India’s 5th largest trading partner in the European Union after Germany, Belgium, the UK, and France. In 2017, bilateral trade was valued at $8.7 billion, an increase of 16% from the 2016 figures.Indian exports to Italy are mostly petrochemical, plastic, textile, and steel items, while Italian exports comprise largely automotive products, industrial machinery, and food processing items, among others. Over 600 Italian companies also operate in India, accounting for nearly $3 billion in investment in 2018. During their talks, the two leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations, including trade and commerce.
They also appreciated each other for support to their stranded citizens in the respective countries. Italy is home to the third-largest Indian diaspora in the EU after the UK and the Netherlands, with an estimated 1,80,000 people. They are mostly engaged in agriculture and dairy industry.
Why India is Important?
The Italian Premier has invited Mr Modi to his country at a suitable date to continue their talks on economic and trade cooperation. India is an important partner for Italy for business and technology collaboration.After taking charge as prime minister, Mr Conte’s first foreign tour outside the EU was India in 2018. He also attended a Technology Summit in Delhi during the visit, which came exactly a year after his predecessor Paolo Gentiloni visited the country in October 2017. Mr Gentiloni was the first Italian PM to visit India in 10 years. Italy considers India as one of the top five priority countries for business.
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