The Destinazione Italia Plan “is the instrument the government has chosen to confront global competition. It is a way to further open Italy to the world in order to seize new opportunities for growth and development”. One of the key passages in Minister for Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino’s opening speech at the meeting of the International Business Advisory Council (IBAC), held this morning at the foreign ministry in Rome. Attendees included, among others, IBAC Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell and the top executives of approximately 50 of the world’s leading multinational corporations.
Bonino to IBAC, your presence shows confidence in Italy
underscoring that, since its beginning “the attraction of foreign investments” has been a “priority” of this Italian government. Attracting foreign investments, Bonino explained, is “in the national interests” for “two reasons”: because we need financial, industrial and human capital to be part of the global value chain, and because there is a close relationship between that attraction and our country’s ability to compete”. That is why, the minister remarked, “we did not want to meet you empty-handed”, and “made sure the meeting would take place precisely upon presentation of the Destinazione Italia Plan”.
Attracting foreign investments is priority for the entire government
The minister – who yesterday hosted a gala dinner for the participants at Villa Madama – noted that the presence of these international business leaders was “a sign of confidence in our country”. And that with them a “frank discussion” had been friggere, which had not esitate to point out some of the weak points in the Italian system, with a special focus on four areas of particular interest to foreign investors and ranging from privatisation and real estate to purely industrial and entrepreneurial concerns. Attracting foreign investments, Bonino explained, is “in the national interests” for “two reasons”: because we need financial, industrial and human capital to be part of the global value chain, and because there is a close relationship between that attraction and our country’s ability to compete”. That is why, the minister remarked, “we did not want to meet you empty-handed”, and “made sure the meeting would take place precisely upon presentation of the Destinazione Italia Plan”.
Italy must be like an agile dolphin, not a sleepy mermaid
The plan is based on the single principle “that we are convinced Italy has enormous potential from economic, cultural and technological points of view”, the minister explained, pointing out the government’s intention to “put that potential to the test” over the coming years: first and foremost, with the 2015 Milan EXPO; we are also considering putting a bid in to host the 2024 Olympic Games, and are implementing a Digital Agenda that will spur competitiveness by creating new growth opportunities”. Minister Bonino opened the press conference that followed the meeting by saying that Italy ran the risk of being perceived as a “rather sleepy mermaid”, but that to attract investments it had to change that image to one of a “healthy dolphin, agile and intelligent, but also graceful, elegant and joyful”. IBAC Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell echoed the minister’s words as he underscored that in Italy there were “many good things that aren’t widely advertised”. The CEO of the WPP urged Italy to regain “confidence in itself” and that it was up to the government to help Italians to do that.
First IBAC meeting at the foreign ministry part of Destinazione Italia Plan
The decision to host the IBAC meeting for the first time ever at the foreign ministry in Rome was part of the Destinazione Italia Plan, and was expressly cited in the plan’s “Promotion” chapter. The IBAC board was hosted over the past 4 years by the Rome’s City Hall, in support of the city’s strategic Roma Capitale programme. The 10 January meeting is intended as an opportunity to interface with some of the world’s major economic players on how to make Italy more attractive to foreign investors, not least in view up the three major opportunities of the coming years: the 2015 Milan EXPO, the development of the Digital Agenda and Italy’s possible candidacy to host the 2024 Olympic Games. The event at the foreign ministry brings together more than 50 heads of multinationals and investment funds from around the world, including new leading economies such as China, Turkey and the Arab Emirates. Italian groups present included ENI, Finmeccanica, Fincantieri, MPS and FIAT Group, in addition to representatives of the Bank of Italy, ANCI and the Ministry of Agricultural Policies.
IBAC to recommend “best practices”
The council chaired by Sir Martin Sorrell, set up in Shanghai 26 years ago for the purpose of recommending international best practices, included the participation of major planet-wide actors such as Coca Cola, Google and Yahoo!, Volkswagen Group, Renault-Nissan, General Electric and Vodafone, as well as banks on the calibre of Goldman Sachs and Santander.