Claiming to have the largest number of smart cities in Europe, Italy is keen to partner with India in its own initiative for 100 of them over the next 20 years with an investment requirement of over $1.2 trillion, a senior diplomat here has said.
“Italy can be a strong partner for smart cities in terms of design and technology. We are very attentive and focussed on India’s smart cities,” Francesco Pensabene, Italian Trade Commissioner and Director of its trade promotion office here, told IANS in an interview.
“We offer a strong partnership for India for its smart cities. Italian companies can majorly contribute in terms of design and technology for the smart cities,” Pensabene said, adding the services can range from consultancy to actual building of infrastructure.
The trade commissioner said his country has launched a two-year campaign this year — “Italy: The Extraordinary Commonplace — to explore new business avenues for Italian companies and that the Indian smart city project figures high on the priority list.
“Smart cities can be instrumental in promoting our exports of furnishing, technology, etc., to India. It is a wonderful programme,” he said, even as his office circulated a paper on the project for Italian companies.
As per this paper, the Mediterranean country has 30 smart cities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the development of 100 smart cities across India in 2015, with proposed initial allocation of Rs.48,000 crore over five years. The first batch of 20 smart cities are expected to be launched by June 25 this year.
A number of countries, including Japan, the United States, Canada, Germany and France, have already entered into various partnerships for the development of India’s mission.
Italy now is looking at partnering for the smart cities to boost its exports to India, that stood at $3.6 billion in calendar year 2015, growing by 10.4 percent when compared to 2014.
“The slogan for our export promotion campaign is ‘building business partnership’. We are looking at a win-win situation for both, constituting of joint programmes and cooperation in all the sectors,” Pensabene said.
“Industrial machinery constitues as much as 40-50 percent of our exports to India. We are happy about the Indian government’s Make in India programme. In fact, we are amongst the top exporters of marble and leather machinery to India.,” the trade commissioner said.
“We are looking at increase in exports of agricultural machinery, textiles and pharma as well.”
The total annual trade between India and Italy stands at $8.2 billion with the Italian deficit at $720 million. The Italian trade promotion office here is also focussing on promoting the food and wine exports to India, which has seen a growth of 27 percent in the last four years.
“Italy contributes as much as 80 percent to India’s pasta imports, 30 percent to its olive oil imports and 10 percent to its wine imports,” he said.
Meghna Mittal / IANS