By Maria Tripodi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
From 16 to 18 May, I was on a mission to Thailand to attend the 79th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and for bilateral meetings, in conjunction with the stopover in the country of the Multipurpose Offshore Patrol Boat "Francesco Morosini". It was my first visit to Thailand, as well as the first by an Italian government member since 2018, reflecting Italy's renewed focus on a key player in the Indo-Pacific. At the ESCAP Commission, I spoke on 'Disaster Resilience: Early Warnings for All in Asia and the Pacific'. Italy is at the forefront of the fight against climate change and disaster management in the region and supports ESCAP's 'Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness' with a contribution of €260,000. This commitment was highly appreciated by the UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, to whom I renewed my intention to continue working together towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The session was also an opportunity to promote Rome's candidacy for EXPO 2030, during short meetings with some of our partners in the area (Tuvalu, Palau, Samoa).
I then had a fruitful conversation with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vijavat Isarabhakdi: on the 155th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and Thailand, we hoped that our deep relations could continue to strengthen, thanks also to the forthcoming opening of the Italian Institute of Culture, the scholarships offered by the Italian Government, and the excellent results achieved in 2022 by our bilateral trade (+21%), which will also benefit from the EU-Thailand Free Trade Agreement, the negotiations for which were recently restarted. Italy is increasingly appreciated in Thailand, as I was able to see during my visit to the 'Future Energy Asia' fair (one of the main regional events in the energy sector) and the welcome given to the patrol vessel Morosini, excellence of our Defence, a sector in which bilateral cooperation can be strengthened.
The next 'High-Level Dialogue on Italy-ASEAN Economic Relations', to be held in Bangkok in the autumn, will be an opportunity to deepen cooperation with Thailand and ASEAN in strategic sectors: pharmaceutical, agri-food, fashion, space, renewable energy, and defence.