EU must harmonise policy towards GCC says Italian minister, Adolfo Urso.
Speaking on the sidelines of the opening day of the Big 5 construction show in Dubai, Adolfo Urso, deputy minister for productive activities at Italy's Ministry of Foreign Trade, called on the EU to harmonise and liberalise its policies towards GCC nations.
The call comes just days before a meeting between EU trade ministers scheduled for December 02 in Brussels aimed at outlining how Europe's economic elite should intensify bilateral agreements between the EU and GCC.
"Italy is currently in the second semester as president of the European Union and we are convinced it is vital for us to define the free trade agreement between the two regions," Urso told Construction Week.
Although Urso was quick to stress that he did not see any serious issues in eventually reaching a compromise, he did outline the high import duties on non-iron based metals coming into the EU as a stumbling block for Italy's own imports and exports to and from the region.
"The EU itself was still opposing it until yesterday (November 29), specifically France, which is opposing this to safeguard its own national interests," he said. " But we feel that the EU needs a policy that leads to harmonisation and liberalisation. Even in this region, which has difficulties, we feel that it is imperative that we reach a free trade agreement."
Meanwhile, the Italian trade commission was also on the offensive. With 150 exhibitors at the Big 5 show looking to cement their relations with the UAE market, trade commissioner, Dr Ferdinando Fiore, highlighted how important he saw the UAE as a trade partner.
"Trade between the two countries has gradually been increasing since 1999," said Fiore. "In 2002, Italian exports to the UAE increased to US $1.8 billion and UAE exports to Italy stand at $120 million."
After the US, Japan, UK and Germany, Italy is ranked as the UAE's fifth largest trading partner. "The UAE is the most important market for us in the Arab world as far as exports go, explains Urso. "As far as exports go, Italy's exports to the Emirates add up to the total of exports to Syria, Jordan and Egypt put together."
Of the 150 exhibitors, 80 Italian companies have already set up in the UAE covering a variety of fields ranging from oil and gas technology and exploitation, to civil engineering and construction equipment.
"We had the largest presence at the show because we have the best products, and building materials and everything Italian is loved because it has style," says Aldo Volini, Italian consul for Dubai.