New envoy hopes to diversify Taiwan people's knowledge about Italy

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Davide Giglio, the new head of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei (IETCPO)

Davide Giglio, the new head of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei (IETCPO) (CNA photo)

Italy's new top representative to Taiwan said Wednesday that his main task during his tenure is to present a diversified image of his country so that Taiwanese can learn that Italy has more to offer than fashion, food and race cars.

During an interview with CNA, Davide Giglio, the new head of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei (IETCPO), said Italy is very recognizable and welcoming.

He said that Italy is known for its world-renowned fashion industry, tourism attractions, delicious cuisine and sports cars, which in a way, makes his job easier in Taiwan as "the name is already out there."

His challenge, however, lies in how to enlarge this perception so that other aspects of Italy can become better known to Taiwanese.

The country is also internationally acclaimed for its machinery, manufacturing, electronic components and textile businesses, he said.

"Italy is the third-largest economy in the European Union. After Brexit, Italy, France and Germany will be the most important countries in EU," he speculated.

After assuming office in January, Giglio said, he is trying to build more connections between Taiwan and Italy.

He admitted that most Italians have limited understanding about Taiwan, even though the two sides maintain robust trade and economic relations.

The envoy said Taiwan is one of the world's leading economies and an important partner for his country in terms of trade and investment.

"I think Italy should get a better knowledge about what Taiwan can offer and Taiwan can also get a better picture of what Italy can provide," he noted.

He said that Taiwanese companies now mostly invest in Italy's machinery sector but he sees other opportunities for cooperation in electronic parts, components and automobile products.

According to information released by Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade, Italy was Taiwan's 22nd-largest trade partner worldwide in 2018, with two-way trade volume reaching US$5.1 billion.

Though he arrived in Taiwan just two months ago, Giglio said he is already quite familiar with the island, as he has been posted in China and headed the Italian foreign ministry's East Asian department twice.

He also previously visited Taiwan five years ago when he was posted in Beijing.

He said he is impressed by the openness of Taiwanese society, as well as its vibrant democracy and freedom of press and religion, saying that these are values Italy and Taiwan share.

Before being posted to Taiwan, the 52-year-old diplomat has previously served in East Asia for many years, including Hong Kong (2001-2005), Osaka (2007-2011) and Beijing (2011-2015).

Giglio said that he originally studied German and Russian and had little interest in East Asia before he joined the foreign service.

"I didn't do any specific studies on East Asia at university. It wasn't on my radar, the idea of serving in the region," he disclosed. After being posted in Asia for several years, he developed a keen interest in the cultures of the region.

"The more I learn about the area, the more I realize I really have to be humble as I approach this culture," he noted.

He also said he is keen on various games, such as Chinese chess, Go and mahjong, which he described as a perfect tool for socializing and better understanding Asian cultures.