In two separate speeches on day one of the State visit to Italy, President Paul Biya set economic priorities in the growing relation between Cameroon and Italy.
Reminiscences of the Roman Empire, its literary splendour, cultural elevation and political sophistication were eloquently revisited last Monday in a toast pronounced by President Paul Biya at the Quirinal Palace. That was not all in what came out to be a masterpiece of a historical foray into the ancient origins of relations of friendship between Cameroon and Italy. Rome and Yaoundé do not only share the geographical contours of the protection of seven hills, they share values of the rule of law, democracy and intrinsic resolve to promote economic development. In historical perspective, Rome has given to humanity its civilisation, establishing today’s basis of fraternal relations. The speech of President Paul Biya in the State dinner, like the Press Statement earlier in the day during the welcome ceremony underlined the core values and priorities linking Italy to Cameroon. The speeches stress and identify the investment sectors in a growing economic relationship that in the near future may place Italy at the Summit as Cameroon’s global economic partner. Another theme revisited in the two speeches was the importance attached by Cameroon to its privileged position in Italy, particularly in the mandate of Sergio Mattarella. President Paul Biya goes down in history as the first African leader to pay a State visit to Italy in the Presidency of Sergio Mattarella. In diplomatic practice, the resonance of this privilege is a measuring scale for respect and honour.
Cameroon and Italy are therefore set for greater economic cooperation. In the twenty first century, such cooperation must trickle down to the ordinary citizens in the form of economic prosperity, job opportunities and improved standards of living. President Paul Biya spells out clearly the priorities of the growing relations between Italy and Cameroon. Italian companies can invest in wood, leather, marble and agro-industrial sectors. Ferrero and Pizzarotti, Italian frontline companies in Cameroon can benefit from our favourable investment climate that will eventually elevate Italy to one of our major economic partners. The Italy-Cameroon economic forum in Yaounde last month set the appropriate foundation to attain these goals. In the last State visit of President Sergio Mattarella to Cameroon last year the legal framework for Cameroon- Italy relations was enriched with three agreements. These included the visa waiver for brief visits for holders of diplomatic and service Passports, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation, agreement and a working document on the utilisation of the resources emanating from the cancellation by Italy of Cameroon debts. Many other protocol agreements were signed, paving the way for improved commercial, cultural and scientific relations between the two countries.
The economic forum opening today in Rome, grouping Italian and Cameroonian economic operators at the Confindustria is bound to open up new avenues of Cooperation as well as fortifying existing relations. As the 8th global economic power and the third in the euro zone, Italy has the technical and financial wherewithal to accompany Cameroon in its development objectives. Statistics today place Italy in the ninth position as a trading partner of Cameroon. If the ongoing trends mature, there is every indication, it will move ahead to challenge the frontrunners. In the past two years, an increasing number of agreements between the two countries and the State by the two Presidents is opening up viable perspectives for an economic upswing. The meeting slated for today between President Paul Biya and the President of the Confindustria, Vincenzo Boccia accompanied by various delegations of Cameroonian and Italian entrepreneurs is expected to accelerate the attainment of all objectives.