.(Photo credit: Italian Consulate General)

The Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Marina Sereni, together with the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, and the Minister of National Economy, Khaled Osaily, took part in the opening session of the third edition of the Italian-Palestinian Joint Business Forum (JBF), a mechanism for periodic consultations between Confindustria Giovani Imprenditori and the Palestinian Federation of Business Associations established in February, 2017, in Ramallah, on the initiative of the Consulate General of Italy in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy.

Co-chaired by Alessio Rossi, President of Confindustria Young Entrepreneurs, and Hashim Shawa, CEO of Bank of Palestine Group, and in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency office in Amman, over 150 B2B meetings were held during the third JBF between the 50 Italian companies represented and their Palestinian counterparts, according to a press release by the Italian Consulate General.

According to WAFA, these contacts will be able to support the growth of trade, the most recent data pertaining to amounting to $111.4 million for 2018, up 3% compared to the previous year. The JBF was also the occasion to present Palestinian start-ups in the high tech sector, also contributing in this way to changing the generally widespread perception of Palestine as that of a traditional market.

On the sideline of the JBF, a memorandum was signed by the president of Confindustria Assafrica e Mediterraneo, Giovanni Ottati, and the president of the Palestinian Federation of Business Associations, Osama Amro, representing a further tool of cooperation between the two business communities, said the press release.

So far, the presence of the Italian companies in Palestine is concentrated in very high-tech sectors, as the design and construction of desalination plants in Gaza, and the restoration of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. The Italian exports are mainly in the sectors of automotive, machinery, and food products, while imports are composed mainly of agricultural products and marble. Italian mechanics is the leader in Palestine in the oil, coffee, wine, packaging, and tanning industries.

It is of the utmost interest the fact that Palestinians are also interested in investing in Italy, said the press release. A Palestinian company, that took part in the second JBF, is in fact assessing an investment of 3 million Euro in the agrofood sector of the Abruzzo region.

In her speech, the Deputy Minister Marina Sereni reaffirmed the strong commitment of Italy, to supporting the strengthening of the Palestinian Institutions, also from the economic perspective, in line with the Italian position in support of the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.