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Address by the Ambassador of Italy, Gianluigi Benedetti on the occasion of the “Gala dinner of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan” Tokyo, December 3, 2021

Dear friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to close the 31st Edition of the Gala Dinner of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, celebrating the positive results achieved, also this year, by the Italian Business Community in Japan.

The global pandemic notwithstanding, you and your companies managed to realize successful activities and achieve positive results, but above all you continued to be the best Ambassadors of the Made in Italy brand that, especially here in Japan, is synonym of unique design, style, craftsmanship and technology.

Let me thank President Massimo Allegri, the Secretary General Davide Fantoni, and all the members of the Board for their excellent work and commitment to ensure an active and fruitful work of the Chamber. I am here only since October 1, but in two months I had the opportunity to see and appreciate the effectiveness of this institution. I am therefore very pleased tonight to express my gratitude and congratulations for your very precious and valuable work in promoting the best image of Italy in Japan.

Allow me to take the opportunity of this important annual event to briefly illustrate some ideas on the prospects of Italy-Japan relations, fully convinced, as I am, of the potential for further expansion of trade, of the bilateral flow of investments and of the cooperation for scientific and industrial research and development.

I start from a picture of the current situation.

Italy and Japan are linked by a long-standing friendship and a strategic partnership. We both have a great cultural tradition, we are two global leading countries with similar interests in the face of the main global challenges, we both have a strong tradition of excellence and dynamism in the manufacturing and industrial sector with companies whose products are known and sought after worldwide for their quality, for design and for technology, which are also the result of the excellence of our academic and scientific communities.

Our trade is robust and has withstood the difficulties associated with the pandemic. The first six months of 2021 recorded an increase of 13.6% in Italian exports and 41.2% in imports with a total value of 6.8 billion euros, 21% more than in the first half of 2020, which confirms Italy as Japan’s second EU supplier after Germany.

We therefore have all the prerequisites to imagine a future in which our partnership is even stronger and richer in collaborations. However, a joint effort by institutions and the private sector is needed to define lines of action and objectives that can ensure a new qualitative leap in bilateral relations in the medium-long term.

In this regard, I believe it is particularly important to focus our attention on three objectives.

The first is the strengthening of the public framework for the promotion of scientific and industrial research and development projects in specific sectors of common interest, such as green technologies, health and aging society, biotechnology, robotics and space. In this regard, an idea we are thinking about is to define some new bilateral agreements and organize a thematic “Italy Innovation Day” every year to bring Italian excellence in these sector to Japan.

The second objective is to develop existing synergies between companies in our countries both to create collaborations on markets of third countries, I think in particular ASEAN countries, and to jointly develop technologies of common interest. Examples such as those of Brembo can be models and both the Italy-Japan Business Group and the Chamber of Commerce could play an important role.

The third objective is to promote the mobility of both researchers and Italian startups to Japan with the aim of introducing them into the Japanese ecosystem of research and innovation to create the conditions for future collaborations. In this regard, it will be important to strengthen contacts between universities and focus above all on the “Global Startup Program”, an already existing Italian public tool to support the international mobility of Italian startups. Here too, the collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce will be essential.

These are possible lines of action that are definitely within our reach and are also well reflected in the recent decision of the Italian Government to participate in Expo Osaka 2025. As I was able to highlight to Minister Wakamija, the Italian decision represents a significant and strong political message of friendship and closeness to a country that is a strategic partner, but is also strongly supported by the entire private sector.

In this perspective for new synergies between Italy and Japan, the Embassy as a whole is more than ever ready to play an active role, collecting suggestions and requests from companies, universities and other public actors and private individuals interested in the Japanese market.

But in this same perspective, the role and collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce will be fundamental and I am absolutely certain that if we succeed in laying the foundations for a strengthening of bilateral relations it will certainly be thanks to your convinced support and your continuous collaboration.