Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Italy-Lebanon Economic Forum Takes Place in Beirut

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Neemat Frem, INDEVCO President & CEO, greeted the Italian delegation at the Italy-Lebanon Economic Forum on 29 June on behalf of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI).


Sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission (Istituto Nazionale per il Commercio Estero, I.C.E.), the forum was held at Four Seasons Hotel Beirut in the presence of Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade, Mohammad Safadi, and Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Gabriele Checchia.

The Italian delegation of over 130 business people representing nearly 75 firms later met with the Lebanese delegation from over 200 firms to explore cooperation in the fields of energy, environment and construction.

As quoted in Lebanon's Daily Star English daily newspaper,

“Italy is Lebanon’s leading European investor, responsible for $576 million of trade up to May,” said Safadi. “This is a growth of 27% compared to the previous year.”

“We are seeing a growth in our trade ties with Italy this year of 43 percent,” he said. “And with Lebanon seeing one of the fastest growths in its economy in the world, we are looking to boost these ties exponentially.



Neemat Frem's Greeting to Italian Delegation
As ALI President, Frem welcomed the Italian delegation to Lebanon, an important gateway to business in the Middle East region:

Excellencies, dear fellow businessmen,

We welcome you warmly to our side of the Mediterranean Sea. We have been ‘official’ friends since 1949, when our countries signed a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Navigation.

But, in reality, our interconnectedness is ancient. I hope you’re able to experience our shared history in the Roman temples of Baalbak and other sites in the Bekaa Valley.

Under Roman rule, Berytus was the most famous provincial School of Roman Law. The cities along our coast were wealthy enough to mint coins. Beirut. Byblos and Tripoli to
the north. Sidon and Tyr to the south.

Partnerships, like the 17th century relationship between Fakhreddine and the Grand Duke of Tuscany and members of the Midici Family, have had a lasting effect on architectural development in Lebanon, as you might notice from the red tile roofs of our
villages.

Fakhreddine was also instrumental in developing silk-related agriculture from our location on The Silk Road. It was commercial exchanges with Tuscany and Modena that further developed a silk industry. Exports of our high quality products supplied an insatiable Italian market. Silk would become the main driver in our economy by the beginning of the 20th century.

Today, with your delegations as proof, we continue to finding ways to strengthen our
Italian-Lebanese friendship. We’re looking for modern-day silk.

We have much in common, starting with our Mediterranean culture that values family,
community, and relationships. In social life and in business.

But Lebanon is also different. By virtue of our multilingual and multi-cultural nature, we serve as an important bridge to the Middle East region as a whole.

Lebanon is a gateway into the Middle Eastern marketplace worth more than $1 trillion USD. A region which is growing at more than 4% per year and which is prime for further development.

Lebanon is different in that Lebanese are able to bridge gaps in understanding.

Understanding nuances is ultimately more valuable than the ability to communicate alone. Every day we discover that, regardless of open borders and despite the latest technologies, communication is not enough.

Nuances make break-throughs. Nuances take success business people the extra mile. Your Italian zest has taken you the extra mile in Europe.

In the Middle East, Lebanese naturally detect nuances and accurately translate needs in the region.


Lebanon is different in that our single most important capital is our human capital. Lebanese executives excel - in Mexico without a doubt - but especially in the Middle East. Our men, as much as our women, are appreciated across the world.


Today...we come together as business people from both sides of the Mediterranean for one-on one-meetings to discover our synergies and to analyze the huge potential that lies between us.

Which areas could prove the most beneficial?

Which areas could provide mutual harvest?

I am sure that you will find a lot and you will unleash great potentials. But I would like to go further. I dream of a day when we will have an Italian Lebanese industrial park here in Lebanon!

This industrial park would provide accessible cheap lands for industry, set up with the right infrastructure and conditions of work. A park where Lebanese and Italians work together in joint ventures to manufacture and supply the Middle East region.

If we align enough public sector focus…

And if we interest enough Italian and Lebanese business men …

we will create another milestone in the Italian-Lebanese relationship.

Thus, you’ll be on the route of the Romans.
And we’ll be in the footsteps of Fakhreddine.

Thank you and again welcome to Lebanon!

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