On Sunday, 1 December, 2019, the Palestinian Businessmen Association organized the Third Palestinian-Italian Business Forum Ceremony in partnership with Bank of Palestine, and in the presence of a delegation comprised of over 50 Italian businessmen who are visiting Palestine with an aim to meet Palestinian businessmen and promote joint cooperation, develop trade and increase trade exchange between both countries.
The ceremony, which was held at the Carmel Hotel in the city of Ramallah, featured the participation of Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Mr. Khaled al-Osaily, the Minister of National Economy, Mr. Hashem Al Shawa, the Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, the President of the Palestinian-Italian Business Forum, Mr. Usama Amr, the President of the Palestinian Businessmen Association, Mr. Fabio Sokolowicz, the Italian Consul-General in Jerusalem, Ms. Marian Sereni, the Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, and several Palestinian businessmen, journalists and media persons.
Mr. Usama Amr welcomes the audience and stressed the importance of the activity conducted by the Palestinian-Italian Business Forum in promoting cooperation, increasing trade exchange and developing relations between Palestine and Italy. Amr also stressed the importance of establishing partnerships with business forums of friendly countries, adding that such relations are developing with each passing year and creating further investments in Palestine. Amr pointed out his efforts to replace Israeli products with Italian products.
Mr. Hashem Al Shawa welcomed the Italian delegation and commended the efforts conducted on both sides to promote joint cooperation between Palestine and Italy by attracting more Italian business people to Palestine during the past few years. Al Shawa called upon the Italian business people to explore the investment environment in Palestine and seek to promote cooperation between Italy and Palestinian private sector organizations. He also pointed out the success stories achieved by projects and initiatives in Palestine during the past few years, referring to them as “stories that add value to these projects and initiatives and could set an example for successes achieved in Palestine.”
Mr. Alessio Rossi stressed the importance of meetings that take place between Italians and Palestinians and the existence of many Italian business people who are willing to explore means of cooperation with their Palestinian counterparts. Rossi pointed out that the aim behind these forums is to create new partnerships and economic organizations in Italy and Palestine to promote cooperation and investment opportunities between Palestine and Italy.
Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh, pointed out the many and different investment opportunities in Palestine that were established as a result of the government’s efforts in drafting laws that encourage investment, including the Palestinian Investment Promotion Law and the Companies’ Law. Dr. Shtayyeh also stated that the balance of trade between Palestine and Italy recorded an increase of 39% since the beginning of the year and an increase in direct imports by 16%, via Israel. “This important forum, which brings together 51 prominent Italian business people to meet with their Palestinian counterparts, is proof of a Palestine that is open for business initiatives and an encouraging investment environment,” stated Shtayyeh. “The government’s strategy is based on promoting Palestinian products,” he said, “and we seek to promote partnerships with the Palestinian private sector to promote the strategy developed by the government, which entails disengaging ourselves from the occupation, going out and opening our markets in different countries around the world,” he added.
Dr. Shtayyeh also pointed out the existence of 14 banks in Palestine with 14 billion dollars in deposits. “We also have promising economic sectors, especially in the fields of agriculture, industries, pharmaceuticals and information technology, in addition to highly profitable tourism projects that managed to attract three million visitors last year and achieve full occupancy rates in hotels in and around Bethlehem,” he stated. He also referred to the upcoming visits that will be conducted by a Palestinian ministerial delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the visit of a Qatari ministerial delegation to Palestine.
Mr. Khaled al-Osaily, the Minister of National Economy, stressed the importance of the economic bilateral relations between Palestine and Italy, pointing out the historic Palestinian-Italian partnership and the interest of the Palestinian business society in expanding its business and investments in cooperation with its Italian counterparts. “Many of our stone and marble factories use Italian machinery,”” stated Osaily, “and our gold and jewelry factories use Italian technologies,” he added.
During his participation in the opening ceremony of the Palestinian-Italian Business Forum, which featured the participation of 51 Italian business people and Palestinian business people, Osaily talked about the Italian-Palestinian cooperation in the field of shoe-making, which involved the implementation of training courses on the skills of Italian shoemaking. Osaily expressed hope to organize a visit for over 50 Palestinian business people to Italy.