(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Italy was the number one European exporter to Jordan in 2011, with exports totalling JD684.58 million, according to Italian Ambassador to Jordan Francesco Fransoni.
Fransoni said his country's exports to Jordan almost doubled in 2011 compared to the previous year, when they amounted to JD379.27 million, while Jordanian exports to Italy also rose to JD49.38 million in 2011 compared to JD46.60 million in 2010.
Italy's exports to the Kingdom include oil derivatives, metals and metal products, machines, and chemical and textile products, while Jordan's exports to Italy include raw metals.
In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, the envoy said economic cooperation between the two countries currently involves mostly trade rather than direct investments, but noted that some Italian companies are currently operating in Jordan, mostly in infrastructure projects.
"The Jordan Investment Board needs to promote fields of investment in Italy to attract Italian investments in the country," Fransoni urged.
Last year, Jordan and Italy signed several cooperation agreements, according to Fransoni, including a nuclear cooperation agreement under which the two countries will be able to start cooperating in the field of peaceful nuclear energy production, as well as an agreement on combating crime.
Also in 2011, Jordan and Italy signed a debt swap agreement with a value of 16 million euros, he said, explaining that the bilateral management committee will meet this month to evaluate the first batch of development projects to be implemented through funds derived from the debt conversion.
Projects to be supported by this agreement will focus on social and economic development.
The Italian envoy said there is high demand in Jordan for learning the Italian language, which is currently being taught in three local universities - the University of Jordan, Yarmouk University, and Al al Bayt University - with support from the Italian ministry of foreign affairs.
"The Italian courses in these universities are attended by about 1,500 students, and there are 200 students who are studying Italian at Societ Dante Alighieri Centre in Amman," Fransoni elaborated, adding that starting next year, Italian will also be taught at Terra Sancta College.
In addition, the Italian foreign ministry offers scholarships to Jordanian students to study and conduct research in Italy, he said.
The Italian government has also been involved since the late 1990s in supporting projects related to archaeology and antiquities in the Kingdom, the ambassador said.
These projects include supporting the restoration of the Mosaic School in Madaba, which has since become the Institute of Mosaic Arts and Restoration. The Italian government has also supported the restoration of Qusair Amra and last month funded a project to document and monitor the stability of the Siq in Petra.