Italian PM touts reforms to lure Japanese funds
TOKYO ITALIAN Prime Minister Mario Monti urged Japan on Wednesday to boost investment in his country because Italy was changing, thanks to fiscal rehabilitation.
Japanese institutional investors have dumped almost all their holdings of Italian government bonds since its debt problems emerged, the prime minister said in a speech in Tokyo, the Nikkei business daily reported.
The reasons for pulling out were “perfectly understandable, completely justified, but no longer valid,” said Monti, who took office in November, while insisting that the eurozone debt crisis was “almost over.” Factors such as the slow response to the crisis, the limited powers of the European Central Bank and perceived political instability had been good reasons to pull out investments, Monti was quoted as saying.
But those issues were moving towards resolution, added Monti, on the first trip in five years by an Italian premier to Japan for bilateral talks.
Italy was also stepping up measures to avert similar future crises, he said.
“My country has had a very crucial role in shaping the colour of the eurozone in terms of its financial health,” he said.
As part of Italy’s growth strategy, Monti said his government would press ahead with labour reforms and the removal of non-tariff trading barriers.
The premier said the debt crisis had given Italy and the European Union a chance to change.
Also on Wednesday, Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi discussed with Monti the possibility of increasing resources at the International Monetary Fund to prevent the sovereign debt crisis from spreading to other eurozone countries.
Monti met with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda later in the day and the two agreed to work towards the early launch of negotiations for a free trade pact between Japan and the European Union.
The Italian premier is scheduled to visit China after his four-day stay in Japan which ends on Friday.