India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation


    In News

    Recently, the 21st session of India-Italy Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) has been held.

    Major Highlights

    • Both sides held extensive discussions on bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation.
      • Major areas discussed were food processing, textiles, leather, railways, start-ups and promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which play a crucial role in economic growth and employment generation.
    • The bilateral market access issues and non-tariff barriers were also discussed to facilitate trade and investment.
    • The progress on the outcomes of the India-EU Leaders Summit in Porto, Portugal was also reviewed.
    • Indian side also raised the issues of Mutual recognition of COWIN Vaccine Certificate and opening up of travel restrictions, longer duration of business visas and portability of social security benefits of Indians working in Italy.
    • Other Initiatives
      • A Session focusing on Energy partnership was held virtually.
      • During the meeting, Indian and Italian companies made presentations focusing on the areas of green economy, clean technology and promotion of use of renewable energy for grid-based multi-energy systems.
      • Both nations reiterated the vision laid down under the Plan of Action adopted on 6th November 2020, to promote energy transition, leveraging technology and climate partnerships.
      • They underscored the pioneering role played by India and Italy at the multilateral fora as early adopters of ambitious clean energy targets.
      • Also, they invited the private and public sectors of both countries to explore synergies to further enhance mutual energy capacities.

    India Italy Relations

    • Historical Context
      • India and Italy are ancient civilizations but young states (Italy having been reunified only in 1861).
        • The classical languages, Sanskrit and Latin both belong to the Indo-European language family.
      • People of these two civilizations have known, interacted and traded with each other for over 2000 years.
        • Italian port cities were important trading posts on the spice route.
        • The Venetian merchant Marco Polo, during his travels to the east, also traveled to India in the 13th century and wrote about his experiences.
      • Indian troops, serving with the British Indian Army, were active in Italy during World War II.
        • These included the Rajputana Rifles and Gurkha Rifles.
        • The 10th Indian Division took part in the East African Allied campaign against the Italians in Somaliland and Abyssinia. 
    • Political Relations
      • Diplomatic relations between India and Italy were established in 1947.
      • Both countries enjoy a cordial relationship and there has been a regular exchange of visits at political and official levels between both countries.
        • In June 2011, India participated in the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Unification of the Republic of Italy in Rome.
      • Both countries regularly hold an institutionalized Senior Officials Dialogue (Foreign Office Consultations).
      • An India-Italy Parliamentary Friendship Association was established in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Italy Chapter in 2004.
    • Economic Relations
      • Trade between the two countries was valued at USD 5.7 billion between April-December 2020.
        • This is considerably lower than the 2019 figure, which stood at USD 11.3 billion and can be explained by the overall plunge in economic activity and barriers to trade caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • Italy is among India’s top 5 trading partners in the European Union (EU) and the balance of trade has been in India’s favour since the early eighties.
        • The bilateral trade witnessed a strong growth till 2007, before the world-wide recession of 2008 led to a marked slowdown in Italian economy, which had an adverse impact on the bilateral trade.
      • Main items of Indian exports to Italy are ready-made garments, leather, iron ore, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, gems & jewellery.
      • Main items of import from Italy are general and special purpose machinery, machine tools, metallurgical products, and engineering items.
      • Top sectors attracting Foreign Direct Inflows (FDI) inflows from Italy are automobile industry/transportation, food processing, metallurgical industry, textiles, electrical equipment, etc.
      • The Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation (JCEC) is an institutional mechanism chaired by the respective Commerce Ministers of both countries. 
        • Under the JEC, there are Joint Working Groups in the following areas: Infrastructure, Tourism, Railways, Food Processing, Renewable Energy, Information Technology and Agriculture.
      • The potential of India and Italy as trade partners can be further explored if India and EU sign the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) which has been in negotiation.
    • Defence
      • Blue Flag is a military aviation exercise held by the Israeli Air Force. In 2017, both India and Italy participated along with other nations.
      • Both nations keep having frequent Maritime Partnership Exercises and also PASSEX. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Tabar recently participated in such an exercise.
      • European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR) is the EU’s counter-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia in which India and Italy participated along with France and Spain.
    • Multilateral Engagement
      • Both countries have been engaged in the mariners case with the involvement of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and Permanent Court of Arbitration.
      • Italy has been more actively involving itself in issues related to Indo-pacific and has been more vocal on the risks emanating from China’s strategic competitive initiatives.
        • Italy is seeking to join India and Japan in a trilateral partnership.
    • Cultural Exchange
      • The Agreement for Cultural Cooperation was signed in 1976, which includes the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP), entailing exchange of students in language programmes as well as other academic courses.
        • Universities and higher education institutions in Italy conduct courses in Indian art, history and languages and also teach Hindi and Sanskrit to Italian students.
      • An Indological Conference was organized by the Mission in collaboration with the academic institutions in the prestigious Museum of Oriental Art (MNAO) in March 2014.
    • Scientific Cooperation
      • An Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation has existed since 1978
        • It envisages three yearly action plans under which a maximum of thirty joint research projects can be undertaken.
        • Some of the prime areas of joint research are electronics, biotechnology, design engineering automotive technologies, energy, etc.
      • An Agreement for Audiovisual Cooperation was signed between the two countries in 2005.
    • Indian Community
      • The Indian community in Italy is the second largest community of Indians in Europe after the UK.
      • As first generation migrants, the majority of them are engaged in economic sectors such as agriculture, dairy farming, leather industry, construction works and in service industry.
      • A significant proportion of the Indian diaspora is concentrated in the northern Italy regions like Lombardia, Piemonte,Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions, Central Italy like Florence, Rome and Southern Italy like Campania, Puglia and Calabria.

    (Image Courtesy: NO)

    Source: PIB