Rep. Shin Kinam, chairman of the Korean-Italian Parliamentary Friendship Association (KIPFA) at the National Assembly, cannot be better qualified for the position in the fact that he has penchant for Italy and everything Italian.
The chairmanship of the parliam entary friendship associations of the National Assembly between Korea and various other countries of the world is allocated to the prominent members of the National Assembly from both the ruling and opposition parties.
In the case of Chairman Shin, however, it was not that he just took the job as it was allocated to him. Chairman Shin was more than glad when the job came to him because he liked Italy with a strong personal interest in the country.
On the occasion of the National Day of Italy on June 2 and the 130th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, The Korea Post recently had an interview with Chairman Shin at his office at the National Assembly. Details of the interview follow:
Question: Please introduce the Korean-Italian Parliamentary Friendship Association of the National Assembly and the achievements so far made by the Association.
Answer: The Korean-Italian Parliamentary Friendship Association works for the promotion of understanding and friendship between the parliamentarians of the two countries through exchange of visits and views on various areas, including those in the political and economic fields.
I would say that this year is particularly important for the two countries as they celebrate the 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Last March, there was a Special Exhibition at the National Library of Korea on the theme of “Machiavelli, the Renaissance Man” and on this occasion there also was an international symposium at the National Assembly Parliamentarians’ Hall on the topic of “Machiavelli from the View Point of East Asia.”
I understand that there will be a “Day of Italy” celebrating the declaration of the Republic of Italy at the Embassy of Italy in Seoul on June 2, 2014.
Q: What is your view of the Head of Government of Italy and what, if any, are your suggestions that would be conducive to further promotion of exchange and relations between the two countries?
A: On Feb. 22, 2014, 39-year-old reform-minded Italian Democratic Party Representative, Mr. Matteo Renzi, became the Prime Minister of Italy, the youngest Prime Minister of Italy, succeeding 47-year-old former Prime Minister Enrico Letta who resigned from the post.
Prime Minister Renzi was elected as chairman of the City Council of Firenze at the age of 29 and then was elected Mayor of the Firenze City when he turned 34--attracting the attention of a lot of people.
Prime Minister Renzi is known to have no experience in the administration of the affairs of the state at the central government nor any close relationship with the political arena in the central theater. Last December, he was elected as the Representative of the Democratic Party.
As I understand Prime Minister Renzi, he shares many common features with former Prime Minister Anthony Charles Lynton Blair of the United Kingdom, and is said to be considering Blair as a model.
I take strong interest in Prime Minister Renzi’s regular communication and dialogue with the young citizens of Italy through the medium of SNS (social network services) and also in his simple and folksy manner.
I take particular interest in his economic stimulation policy through retrenching of the government expenditures and reduction of taxes on the low-income-bracket people.
If he succeeds in effectively managing the fiscal deficits and in various reform policies he has been pushing ahead with, I would expect that Prime Minister Renzi would be able to improve the financial difficulties of the country and reduce unemployment rate?bringing the overall economy of Italy back to an optimum level.
Q: Milano Expo 2015 (Milan World’s Fair) will be held in Italy. What is your view of Korea’s participation in the Expo?
A: I believe that Milano Expo 2015 will provide a very important opportunity for both Korea and Italy to further promote their bilateral exchange and cooperation. Korea hosted the Yeosu Expo 2012 and we wish that Italy will successfully host Milano Expo 2015. We plan to give Italy our positive support and assistance with our experience and expertise gained in the processing of hosting our Yeosu Expo and I am sure that they would substantially contribute to the successful hosting of Milano Expo.
Q: What, if any, are your plans to further promote the exchange and cooperation between Korea and Italy through the parliamentarians of the two countries?
A: The parliamentary friendship associations have been helpful in promoting the friendship and cooperation between Korea and the counterpart countries in the political, economic, social and cultural areas through exchange of visits and views on various pending issues between the Korea and these other countries.
Members of the Korean-Italian Parliamentary Friendship Association have been planning to visit the Parliament of Italy in the second half of this year, but final schedule and itinerary have not been fixed due to various reasons, including the fact that Italian-Korean Parliamentary Friendship Association in Italy has not yet been formed (as of April this year).
We are trying to adjust the time of our visit to Italy to some time after September this year.
During the visit, we are planning to seek ways to further promote cooperation and friendship between Korea and Italy on the occasion of the launching of the Government of Prime Minister Renzi, and explore the possibility of Korea’s providing of support and assistance to Italy for the successful hosting of Milano Expo 2015 as well as promotion of economic cooperation between the two countries.
Q: How are the Korean business companies doing in Italy and what assistance and support could be given at the parliamentary level for the business companies wanting to invest in Italy?
A: Italy is the fourth largest trading partner of Korea in the European Union (as of 2012) and the volume of trade between the two countries stands at US$4 billion (as of October 2013).
Korea invested a total of US$440 million in Italy from 1965 to 2012 in a total of 206 cases. Italy, vice versa, invested a total of US$390 million in Korea in a total of 199 cases.
At present, Korea and Italy are readying to put into effect an amendment of the Korea-Italy Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and I believe that when this is done it would facilitate the exchange of information on taxation promotion and cooperation in investment.
All related procedures on our side in Korea are in a state of completion and as soon as such procedures are completed in Italy, I think that we will submit a motion to the National Assembly for the ratification of the Agreement. We will do our best for speedy handling for its timely passage.
We are considering Italy as an advanced country in many areas, especially in the ‘Creative Industry’ which is predicated on creativity and new idea.
Italy is a front runner in the fashion and other manufacturing industries where high added-value is created through merger of technology with culture and art.
In particular, Milan Expo 2015 will take place in Italy for six months from May 2015, and I expect that Korean companies will take part in the Expo in various forms and ways.
In this regard, I think that I will seek ways to provide support and assistance to such Korean companies at the parliamentary level.
Right photo shows another book, "Shin Kinam's Tempering."
Q: What are your impressions of the political, economic and cultural aspects of Italy?
A: For several centuries since the Roman Empire, Italy has had difficulties due to regional conflicts between the north and south deriving from political division and inadequate natural resources.
However, following the end of World War II, Italy made an outstanding economic growth through export of manufactured goods and achieved a remarkable development in the political, economic and social areas. In this respect, I would say that Korea and Italy share many common features.
However, in the cultural area Italy has an enormous competitive edge and potential which performed the role of a prime mover pushing Italy up to the ninth largest economic power of the world (as of 2012).
It is true that Italy suffered difficulties from the political division for several centuries since the Roman Empire. However, it was the cultural center in Western Europe throughout the Period of Renaissance from the Medieval to the Modern Ages.
We are now entering an age where cultural competitiveness will determine the competitiveness of a country.
Today, Italy is having a tough time in terms of economy due to fiscal deficits and high rate of unemployment, but I am sure that Italy will pull itself through successfully thanks to the high cultural competitiveness.
Q: Please introduce yourself and your view of international cooperation.
A: About myself: I was formerly chairman of the Uri Party (now New Politics Alliance for Democracy), chairman of the Korean Library Association and a member of the Committee on National Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade of the National Assembly (17th term).
Presently, I am a member of the National Assembly (elected for four consecutive terms, from Gangseo Gap District, Seoul), vice chairman of the Korean-Chinese Parliamentary Diplomatic Group, vice chairman of the Korea-United Kingdom Parliamentary Friendship Association, chairman of the Korean-Italian Parliamentary Friendship Association, and chairman of the National Assembly Forum for the Development of Library Culture.
About my view on international cooperation: I would say that common objectives for the promotion of ‘development and prosperity of mankind’ must form the basis of international cooperation and, for this, understanding of the history and culture of other countries is most important.
I am sure that the mutual exchange and cooperation between Korea and Italy will further flourish in diversity and substance in the political, economic, social, cultural and various other fields provided such efforts are supported by the understanding of the history and culture of each other.
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