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Singapore: Ambassador Vattani, a “showcase” with Italy in the spotlight

R01 – 16:30:31 27/10/22

(AGI) – Singapore, October 27 – A small City-State of only six million inhabitants, which sums up the opportunities of a rapidly growing region, Southeast Asia, despite the tensions between China and the United States and the uncertainties caused by the war in Ukraine. It is the Singapore portrait of the Italian Ambassador Mario Vattani, who for just over a year has headed the diplomatic mission in the City-State. Singapore offers a guarantee of stability, with the advantage of being a “showroom” for all of Southeast Asia, where it counts to have a space, and where Italy can play a leading role, also thanks to the opportunities of PNRR, explains Vattani to AGI.

Located in the heart of that “enlarged Mediterranean” that is the South China Sea, crossed by tensions over Chinese territorial claims, but also a fundamental hub for international trade, Singapore is much more than a shipping hub: the City-State, and more generally, the ASEAN region, which brings together the economies of Southeast Asia, is also a subject of interest from the European Union and its strategy for the Indo-Pacific. The numbers and characteristics of the region (600 million people, mostly young, with a rapidly growing middle class) make Singapore the heart of a region that brings together a vast potential clientele for the excellence of the Made in Italy. .

Italy is already present with some leading names: Vattani remembers STMicroelectronics, in Singapore since the 1960s, Mapei for construction, Leonardo and Fincantieri, without neglecting some companies in southern Italy, such as Mermec, which produces measuring trains for railways, present in the subway. Then, to complete the picture, there are important investments in the maritime tugboat sector and, obviously, the food & beverage and agro-food sector. The Italian interest in Singapore is reciprocated by the City-State.

There is a “very strong curiosity” on the part of Singapore authorities towards the new government, explains Vattani. “One of the reasons is the role of Italy in the Mediterranean. We are seen as a country that has managed to build a very close network with all the countries of the Mediterranean: to the problem of energy supply and the way our companies operate”. Furthermore, in terms of corporate partnership, Italian companies are seen as “a partner capable of studying the priorities and needs of Singapore almost morphologically and of adapting the offer” to the reality of the City-State. The affinity between Singapore and Italy also concerns the way in which the Peninsula is perceived, not too dissimilar from how Singapore sees itself.

“They look a lot to Europe and to partners like Italy”, continues Vattani. “We too are somewhat considered a border country, which extends into the Mediterranean, with North Africa on the other side, and its opportunities and problems. The dialogue goes beyond just the economic issue: they sell us as partners to compare and share insights with for the near future “. Singapore is an open society, where it is easy to open offices, continues the Ambassador, and which can be the ideal platform for activities in Southeast Asia. Technology and investments play a leading role: with two sovereign funds, GIC and Temasek, Singapore is present, through the latter, in the port of Genoa and in the Moncler brand.

“We must make ourselves better known through the opportunities of the PNRR, and we must make Singapore better known in Italy”, is the opinion of the Italian Ambassador in the City-State. While having to make up for delays compared to other countries, such as Germany, “we have begun to develop programs such as the Global Start-up program of the Italian Trade Agency (ICE), which for the first time this year saw Singapore as one of the locations” of the project, which includes one hundred innovative Italian start-ups in nine countries, with start-ups ranging from hi-tech, to digital, to satellite. Projects that are dear to Singapore on the subject of sustainability, such as “vertical farms” to increase the cultivation of agricultural products, and “smart cities” are sectors in which Italian companies can bring their know-how.

“Singapore’s plans of the future are where we can offer our innovation, but above all we should try to create more links between our university system and that of Singapore”, historically closely linked to the Anglo-Saxon one, suggests Vattani, who thinks first of all to the Italian research on new materials and design. The Singapore model also resists the pressures arising from the war in Ukraine and tensions between China and the United States, with a balance that has not limited the City-State in imposing sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, the only Country of Southeast Asia to move in this direction.
Singapore, concludes Vattani, represents “an exceptional example of a society that brings together different cultural identities” and, despite the uncertainties of the present, is a candidate to remain “an attractive place for companies and investors, certainly capable of producing growth, balance , and to face the problems that will arise in time. This situation should push us to look forward and make ourselves known on new markets, and Singapore is certainly the best showcase for our creativity and for all that Italy represents on a market as vast as that of ASEAN “.