India, Italy expected to sign several pacts during virtual summit on Friday

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) India and Italy are expected to sign a number of agreements providing for expansion of cooperation in trade, investment and environment during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte on Friday.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the bilateral summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the relationship and exchange views on major regional and global issues of mutual concern.

Italy is India's fifth largest trading partner in the European Union and both sides are further keen to expand the economic engagement in a range of areas.

Official sources said a number of agreements providing for boosting cooperation in the fields of trade, environment, media, film making, investments and fisheries are expected to be signed at the summit.

The volume of bilateral trade was Euros 9.52 billion in 2019. Around 600 large Italian companies covering varied sectors such as fashion and garments, textiles and textile machinery, automotive components, infrastructure, chemicals, energy confectionery and insurance are currently active in India.

'India and Italy share a warm and multifaceted relationship based on strong historical ties, common democratic traditions, rule of law and a shared goal of international peace and stability. India views Italy as an important member of the EU and values its positive contribution in furthering India-EU ties,' the MEA said in a statement.

The sources said Italy has been seeking two-way investment in a wide range of areas including green and circular economy, energy, health and pharma, food processing, infrastructure and advanced manufacturing given the high degree of complementarities between the two economies.

Italy is also hopeful of progress in negotiations on the trade and investment agreements between India and the EU, they said.

The sources said Italy is also very keen to promote greater linkages with India in digital technology and e-governance, adding, the country is also seeking to retain its market share in India’s defence sector.

Besides being part of the European Union, Italy is a member of several prominent regional and global groupings including G7, G20, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 'Italy’s expertise in design, innovation, niche technologies in all types of machinery, food processing, packaging, renewable energy, railways etc. are an ideal match for our ‘Make in India’ programme,' said a source.

The two countries have been engaged in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as well in the last few months.

According to official details, India gifted 40,000 surgical masks, 100,000 hand gloves, 20,000 head covers and 20,000 shoe covers to Italy in March 2020.

Following the pandemic, 4,309 Indians were repatriated from Italy while repatriation of 1,495 Italians was facilitated from India. PTI MPB RDM RDM