Myanmar is one of the few countries in Asia which are priority for the Italian Government. The Embassy of Italy in Myanmar is focusing mainly on four areas: politics, economy, development cooperation and culture. Giorgio Aliberti, Ambassador, discusses bilateral relations and areas of cooperation.
European Times: How would you describe the bilateral relations between the two countries?
Giorgio Aliberti: In terms of politics, we are focusing on strengthening bilateral relations in order to build stronger ties with the new government and a partnership for the future. Italy is among the strongest supporters of Myanmar’s progress and a true signal of support is the fact that Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni was the first high level government official from Europe to visit Myanmar after the new government took office.
European Times: What are some of the activities aimed at strengthening economic cooperation?
Giorgio Aliberti: After 50 years of international isolation, Myanmar is now considered a country with great opportunities for economic development. The trade with Italy is increasing and the interest of Italian companies is growing. More than 100 companies participated at the “Italian Products Expo 2015” in Yangon in October 2015 and we are constantly organizing events aimed at strengthening commercial activities and skill transfer processes which are essential at this point.
Mainly three sectors are appealing for Italian companies: infrastructure, energy (particularly hydropower and green energy) and machinery for industry and agriculture. At this point however, Italian companies are getting ready to enter the business arena, waiting to see the plans of the new leadership, especially in terms of dealing with challenges, such as electricity and infrastructure shortage.
European Times: In terms of Myanmar’s development and culture preservation, in which sectors is the Embassy involved?
Giorgio Aliberti: Regarding development cooperation, we focus on rural development, good governance and support for SMEs by providing grants and soft loans with very low interest rates. Since 2011, Italy has allocated more than €35 million and we pledged additional €70 million for 2016-2018, plus the 13% of the funds allocated by the EU.
The Embassy focuses on cultural heritage protection and tourism development by sharing our vision, experience as well as financial support. Since 2011, the financial support for projects of the Ministry of Culture for preservation of Myanmar’s heritage exceeded €1.2 million. The Embassy assisted in making Pyu Ancient Cities Myanmar’s first site in the UNESCO world heritage list and we are assisting in making Bagan a heritage site as well, hopefully by 2017. Additionally we provided a rich program of events entitled “Italy in Myanmar 2016: our legacy from the past, our vision of the future”, which includes different culture, art and culinary events.
Tourists will be amazed by the magical beauty of the country and investors will be satisfied with the excellent investment potential, so I urge everyone to come to Myanmar.