President Berdymuhamedov of Turkmenistan visited Italy, 6-7 November 2019. He had separate meetings with the president and the prime minister of Italy and a group of Italian businessmen in Rome.
The Turkmen-Italian business forum was held in Milan on 6 November 2019.
Some documents were signed on conclusion of the summit talks with the prime minister of Italy:
- Agreement between the Government of Turkmenistan and the Government of the Italian Republic on air traffic
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and the Medical Industry of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Health of the Italian Republic on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Medical Sciences
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Environment and Land and Sea Protection of the Italian Republic on cooperation in the field of risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research of the Italian Republic on cooperation in the field of education
At the business forum, 12 memoranda and agreements were concluded in the fields of energy, industry and transport, the textile industry, as well as in banking, healthcare and the medical industry, and education.
Members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs signed 20 agreements with various Italian companies, including the supply of equipment and processing lines for import-substituting industries.
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The private sector of Turkmenistan made a solid headway during the visit. This was the first time that 20 agreements were signed in business-to-business format during the state visit.
The focus remained on building the capacity of Turkmenistan to reduce imports and increase exports.
The resulting documents during the visit show the ability of the private sector of Turkmenistan to engage beneficially with the foreign partners.
This was evident earlier too when a full airplane of Turkmen businessmen flew to Japan for meetings on the sidelines of the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito.
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The role of UIET (union of industrialists and entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan) is remarkable in building the capacity of the private sector. This is one of the features of the evolving model of partnership with Turkmenistan.
The UIET has its own bank with ample funds to finance the business entities, the trade school for training the small entrepreneurs and workers for private business, experts for advising the SMEs on management practices and export opportunities, and the ability to streamline the public-private interaction situations.
The UIET, therefore, is crucial for building partnership relations with Turkmenistan. In fact, this could be the starting point when looking for handles in a partnership scenario.
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The success of the visit of President Berdymuhamedov is greatly attributable to the efforts and methodical work of the Italian embassy in Ashgabat, and the ITA (Italian Trade Agency) cluster office in Turkey.
They prepared a new edition of the Italian-Turkmen business directory especially for the visit. In addition to giving the contact details of the Italian and Turkmen entities, it provides a lot of useful information.
This includes the identification of areas to invest: 1. Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning (also from renewable sources); 2. Buildings; 3. Transport and storage; 4. Products of agriculture, fishing and forestry; and 5. Chemical products.
It also outlines the areas where the Italian machinery, products or knowledge could be marketed to Turkmenistan: Machinery and equipment, Buildings, Water supply; sewerage, waste treatment and remediation activities, Furniture, Transport and storage, etc.
Any other country that could be interested in drawing the full benefit from a state visit would be well advised to work on a similar directory or guide.
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The Italian embassy in Ashgabat worked systematically to create points of traction throughout the year.
Here are some examples:
- In October 2019, three major textile importers of Turkmenistan visited the La Moda Italiana event with the support of ICE / ITA Almaty. It provided the opportunity to introduce the work of over 40 Italian artisans of fabrics, furs and leather
- In September 2019, the Italian ambassador, Diego Ungaro, met the Rector of the Telecommunications and Computer Institute Nurnepes Kuliyev, with whom he discussed the possible forms of collaboration with similar research and study institutions in Italy
- In September 2019, the Italian ambassador met the Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Seismology Guljamal Sariyeva, and discussed the operational aspects of bilateral cooperation
- In September 2019, a delegation of the Turkmen entrepreneurs participated in the international Vitrum exhibition at Fiera Milano Rho at the invitation of ICE/ITA
- The vice president of the Italian chamber of deputies, Ettore Rosato and his delegation visited Ashgabat and had meetings with the chairman of the parliament and the deputy minister of foreign affairs
- In May 2019, the Italian ambassador hosted an informal business forum with participation of
- the Italian Agency for Foreign Trade ITA / ICE and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Union of Entrepreneurs and industrialists, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD, companies and operators active in industrial, technological and commercial relations between the two countries
- in April 2019, the ICE office in Istanbul facilitated the participation of a Turkmen business delegation in CIBUS Connect 2019
- In March 2019, the undersecretary of state for foreign affairs of Italy, Manlio Di Stefano at the head of a private sector delegation that included representatives from the sectors of plant engineering and industrial components, oil and gas, defense, space and telecommunications visited Turkmenistan and had meetings with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov, Deputy Prime Minister Myratgeldi Meredov (gas & oil), Deputy Prime Minister Chary Gylyjov (trade) and President of the Union of Industrialists, Aleksandr Dadaev
Such visits are building blocks for receiving the full value from a state visit.
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Another feature that comes to light is the flexible approach at every step of the interaction.
The need for flexibility arises when the timeframe of the visit needs to be changed at short notice, the meetings need to be rescheduled, the agenda needs to be refined, the composition of the delegation needs to be altered, etc.
The flexibility from all sides is an important feature of a successful model of partnership.
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While preparing for the visit, the Italian side understood that subcontracting in major projects is an important area for the suppliers of machinery, technology, and knowhow.
Sometimes more than a hundred subcontractors work on a major project in Turkmenistan.
There is the growing trend to award the main contract to the local companies in Turkmenistan and allow them to engage subcontractors as and when required.
This is yet another feature of the evolving model of partnership with Turkmenistan.
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An important aspect when planning the partnership with Turkmenistan is the use of an integrated approach.
This is composed of two layers: supply side integration, and client side integration.
Among other things, integration in this sense means that the obligations of all the partners should be clearly understood by everyone.
It also covers the seamless sequence of acts that will take place from the start to the end of a project.
The success of the trans-boundary projects such as the Southern Gas Corridor will depend in great extent on an integrated approach.
Applying an integrated approach helps raise the chance of more profitable partnership;
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Another feature of the partnership model with Turkmenistan that is known already and has underscored itself again during the visit to Italy is the need for total separation of politics from business.
Actually, it needs a bit of explanation: The business commitments must be backed fully by the political will, but beyond and before that there should be no political influence to shape the business decisions.
This is an important element of the partnership model with Turkmenistan. /// nCa, 11 November 2019