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Interview by Gulf Times newspaper to Ambassador Prunas

Interview by Gulf Times newspaper to the Ambassador of Italy to the State of Qatar, H.E. Alessandro Prunas.

Support for Italian firms eyeing Qatari market on track: envoy.

Italian companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting the ‘Made in Italy’ trademark to Qatar, are assured of the Italian embassy’s support amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic’s impact on the global economy.

According to Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas, the Embassy of Italy in Doha is in constant dialogue with representatives of the Italian business community in Qatar, “sharing updates on their projects, and inputs on how to broaden the cooperation between the two countries.”

“The Covid-19 emergency has further intensified this effective teamwork between the embassy and the Italian private sector. Since the adoption of the first preventive measures by Qatari authorities, the embassy has played a role in circulating the official information across Italian residents, including the business community.

“Also, Italian companies have been provided with tailor-made assistance to follow-up on specific operational needs and outreach towards relevant authorities. Our services are addressed to Italian companies based in Qatar. We also provide assistance to companies in Italy, especially SMEs, exporting to Qatar or are interested in investing in this market,” Prunas told Gulf Times.

In light of the current health crisis, Prunas said the Italian Trade Agency’s (ITA) portfolio of services “has been tailored according to the new situation.” From April 1, 2020, most of the services “are now free of charge,” the ambassador noted.

Prunas said the ITA is continuing its promotion and information activities, and also through a dedicated newsletter to highlight business opportunities in Qatar and give updates on the economic situation in the country.

“Looking ahead, the ITA is also working on the organisation of the main exhibitions scheduled in Doha for the second quarter of this year, in particular, Project Qatar, Hospitality Qatar, and Qatar Travel Mart, and keeps providing contacts, advice, and support to Qatari companies looking to invest and expand their business in Italy,” Prunas stressed.

Asked if the crisis had created new opportunities for co-operation between Italy and Qatar, Prunas said: “First, allow me to say that this unprecedented situation has reconfirmed and even strengthened the close friendship and strategic partnership between Italy and Qatar.
“I would like to join my Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio in expressing, once more, our sincere appreciation to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence, as well as the Qatar Fund for Development, for generously supporting Italy by supplying two field hospitals and medical equipment, which will help mitigate the effects of this sanitary emergency.”

In terms of new opportunities, Prunas said Italian and Qatari universities, and medical institutions have started new scientific collaborations aimed at researching on the genomics of patients severely affected by the virus.

“Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation research projects are in contact with some major Italian geneticists to study data and understand if there are genetic patterns in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Qatar Foundation Hospital Mater Olbia in Sardinia is working with the Hamad Medical Corporation to explore if plasma from recovered patients can be of any help for new therapies. These new contacts pave the way to new important opportunities of mutual benefits,” Prunas emphasised.