As a result of the recent reform on the transfer of competence on the matter of trade policy and internationalisation of the Country System, (Decree Law No. 104 of 21 September 2019 converted into Law No. 132 of 18 November 2019), as of 1 January 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Cooperation (MAECI), in agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE), will share the guidance and strategic activity on the matter of foreign investment attraction.
With the aforementioned reform, MAECI has acquired competence in the field of trade policy and internationalisation of the Country System, including the functions of guidance and supervision of ICE-Agenzia, whose activity abroad, through the Offices and the network of special Desks and Analysts, in connection with the diplomatic-consular network, is an essential component for attracting foreign investment to Italy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is committed on a daily basis to making the Country System increasingly competitive and attractive to foreign investors. While playing this role, the Foreign Ministry makes available an extraordinary asset, i.e. its diplomatic and consular network, which is the first authoritative and recognisable point of contact for institutional and large private investors.
With a view to making foreign investment attraction policies more effective, the connection between all institutional players involved is even more important in order to achieve a single and integrated governance model for the whole country.
The main players in investment attraction are the following:
- Steering and Coordination Unit for Internationalisation (2011): the policy for attracting foreign investment has fully become the subject-matter of this Unit co-chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Economic Development, which annually discusses the priorities and strategies to be implemented. It is financed with ad hoc resources within the Plan for the extraordinary promotion of Made in Italy and the attraction of investment to Italy (Decree-Law No. 133/2014). Considering the strategic importance of attracting foreign investment, also for relaunching the economy, an extraordinary session of the Steering and Coordination Unit dedicated to foreign investment attraction, co-chaired by both Ministries, was held on 20 April 2021. At the end of the said extraordinary session, a final document was adopted committing all the Administrations and entities which took part in that exercise to work on a series of concrete operational follow-ups.
- Interministerial Committee for attracting Foreign Investment (CAIE): it is a coordinating body for foreign investment attraction policies, established by the so-called “Sblocca Italia” Decree (DL 133 of 2014, art. 30). CAIE is chaired by MiSE and is composed of representatives from MAECI, MEF, Ministrry for Public Administration and the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces. ICE-Agenzia and Invitalia S.p.a., an agency supervised by MiSE, also regularly take part in its works. Invitalia S.p.a. is responsible for drawing up the national offer of investment opportunities and assisting investors in the settlement and incentive granting phase. CAIE performs a dual function: (i) to formulate proposals, including legislation and regulations, to improve the attractiveness of the country and the investment climate, and (ii) to follow up specific foreign investment projects with a high impact in terms of economic growth, employment and contribution to innovation, facilitating dialogue with the central and local administrations involved in the various administrative procedures underlying the implementation of the investment itself.
- The International Indexes Working Group: in 2017 the Steering and Coordination Committee set up an “International Indexes Working Group” within CAIE, which includes MAECI, MISE, MEF, Bank of Italy, ICE-Agenzia and Istat. The Working Group’s objective is to identify the most relevant international indexes, in order to improve – through targeted actions and activities – Italy’s positioning in the various international rankings.
- ICE-Agency and the network of Foreign Investment Attraction Desks and Analysts (AIE): the “Sblocca Italia” Decree (Decree-Law No. 133 of 12 September 2014) strengthened and integrated – within ICE-Agenzia (ICE) – the technical functions necessary for promoting investment opportunities in Italy and for accompanying and assisting foreign investors also through its foreign network, in connection with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and its diplomatic-consular network. Following the reform on the transfer of competence on trade policy and internationalisation of the Country System from MiSE to MAECI, with which the latter acquired responsibility for the governance of economic diplomacy as a whole, the promotional activities of the ICE-Agenzia network of Desks and Analysts for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), over which the Foreign Ministry exercises supervisory and guidance functions, as well as the valuable work of the diplomatic-consular network, are an essential component for attracting investment to Italy. In a phase of increasingly intense global competition, the current objective is to have a widespread and effective network of FDI attraction desks (in priority countries), capable of carrying out an increasingly incisive activity of market intelligence, business scouting and finalisation of investment projects. The activities for the promotion of investment opportunities in Italy and the identification of potential investors are therefore carried out by the ICE-Agenzia network of Offices and Desks and Analysts for Attracting Foreign Investment (AIE), in accordance with the guidelines issued by the diplomatic-consular network. Among the priority actions, also in an international perspective, a plan has been drawn up to strengthen the network of ICE-Agenzia’s AIE Desks and Analysts: the network of Desks and Analysts will increase from the current 19 to 26 desks. On an operational level, FDI attraction activities are followed by the two national agencies, ICE-Agenzia and Invitalia Spa, supervised respectively by MAECI and MiSE. The new Memorandum of Understanding on FDI attraction between MAECI-MiSE-ICE-Invitalia of 30 September 2020 defines in detail the methods of coordination between the Agencies, now supervised by two different Administrations, in their respective activities for developing the national FDI offer, for assisting and accompanying investors and managing incentives (Invitalia S.p.A.), and for engaging and persuading investors on foreign markets (scouting and lead generation) and promoting the FDI offer (ICE-Agenzia). The Memorandum also envisages the launch of a collaboration between the two Agencies and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) to promote the attraction of venture capital for innovative enterprises and startups (also through CDP Venture Capital – National Innovation Fund), as well as the attraction of capital in the real estate sector.
- Conferenza delle Regioni e delle Province Autonome (Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces): a fundamental role in national governance is played by Regions, represented within CAIE by the Permanent Conference for Relations between the State and the Regions, which identify investment opportunities in the territories and accompany investors in the implementation of their projects.
- Coordination Group for the Exercise of Special Powers (the so-called Golden Power): the investment made in Italy in specific sectors is subject to the scrutiny of this Group, which ensures the protection of national strategic interests (Decree Law No. 21 of March 15, 2021) (Decreto Legge n° 21 del 15/03/2012).
- Gruppo Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP): controlled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, it is the National Promotion Institute and its aim is to develop the national economy, also through the growth, innovation and internationalisation of Italian companies. The main use of financial resources is represented by loans to the State and local governments, investment in the venture capital of Italian companies operating also abroad, and participation in real estate, infrastructure and financial projects deemed strategic for the development of the national economy. Financial resources also partly stem from bond issues made on foreign markets and, to this end, the CDP Group companies have established several investment funds in which foreign institutional investors participate.