(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
Rome, 17 October 2017
I wish to greet the Ministers, Undersecretaries and all the eminent representatives of the public and private members of the Control Room.
I was keen on being here with you today for two reasons. The first is that I consider the Control Room to be the best example of “team work” at Country level in Italy. The second is that since the beginning of my mandate at the Farnesina, I have given great impulse to economic diplomacy.
The issue of growth was at the heart of the Conference of Ambassadors who devoted more than one day to activities that support businesses.
I would like to briefly make some remarks that are always included in the instructions I give to our Ambassadors.
First of all, economic diplomacy is a direct contribution to growth and it is perfectly measurable.
Each single action counts, whether the assistance is provided to small, medium or large enterprises. Together with Confindustria we gave proof of this through an independent survey carried out by Prometeia that measured the contribution of economic diplomacy to be more than 1% of the GDP.
We have compared the actual budget of the Farnesina versus this contribution to growth and the Farnesina was found to be a 20 times “multiplier”. This means that 1 euro from taxpayers to the Farnesina generates 20 euros of growth for Italy, a result that, of course, is achieved by the whole “team” which includes all the players who are here as well as Italian companies.
A new survey is being carried out and the preliminary results are very positive.
The purpose of these data is not to “pat ourselves on our backs” but to monitor the results of the actions taken. I therefore hope that also the Control Room will attach importance to measuring impact.
The second point is that economic diplomacy has its “heart” in the Mediterranean…
Our goal is to create a new economic Hub in the Mediterranean. We must face the crises of the Mediterranean with full awareness of the rich opportunities it offers: it is a regional market consisting of 500 million consumers and it generates 10% of the world’s GDP; and let’s not forget that 20% of maritime traffic and 30% of oil trade plough the waters of the Mediterranean.
This is a topic on the agenda of the forthcoming Med Dialogues (Rome 30 November-2 December). But it is evident that the first step to launch the Mediterranean as a global economic hub is to work towards an increasingly integrated market with greater attention to energy and infrastructure.
I am thinking first of all about Libya whose stability and prosperity are closely related to our security and growth. For this reason we organized the First Italian-Libyan Economic Forum in Agrigento (July 2017). There are opportunities that can already be seized and others that will reach maturity in the future when the security conditions improve. We wish to contribute to helping the Libyans define, together with the United Nations and the leading partners, a vision of what the Libyan economy will be like once the current crisis has been solved. In other terms, we want to contribute to the implementation of the Libya Vision 2030.
I am thinking of Turkey and of the next Forum of the Italy-Turkey dialogue that we are organizing here in Rome for November 8 and that will have a strong entrepreneurial and economic component.
I am also thinking of the new opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa where we have opened a new Embassy in Niger and soon we will be reopening our Embassy in Guinea Conakry.
All this without forgetting, of course, the emerging Countries and high priority Countries like Russia, China and India.
In India, in the wake of the renewed momentum given to political relationships we are carrying out important politically led business missions. And I would like to recall the forthcoming visit to India by President Gentiloni at the end of October (30 October).
In Russia we have reversed the negative trend that started in 2014. In 2016 the trade volume amounted to more than 17 billion euros and the first six months of 2017 marked a 24.4% increase in Italian exports (3.8 billion euros). On 7 November I will be co-chairing with Deputy Prime Minister Dvorkovich the 15th session of the Italian-Russian Economic Cooperation Council that will be held in Moscow.
In China we are looking with great interest at the development of the “new silk road” and at the potential rebound this will have on Italian ports in terms of expansion. At the Farnesina we have have opened a “strategic think tank” to focus on Italy’s priorities. By the end of the year I will be chairing an Italian-Chinese Inter-Governmental Committee.
It is precisely these three Countries that boosted Italian exports in the month of August that was up more than eight points compared to the same month in 2016. Overall, according to recent data (Eurostat), in the first eight months of the year exports almost reached 293 billion euros, almost 21 billion more than the same period last year. A The exports from the Islands increased by 36.2% in the first six months – a very substantial growth.
The third point I would like to emphasize is that economic diplomacy and the internationalization of companies need to focus on our youth more….
We need to put young people at the centre of our agenda on growth, innovation and development. Let us make a concrete example: at the beginning of this year, together with the business world, we promoted the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan for the Internationalization of Universities to better harmonize education, entrepreneurship and access to labour. And there are many other ideas that we can develop together through this Control Room.
The fourth point is that economic diplomacy increasingly attracts foreign investments…
For instance, we have stepped up our activities with the creation of the Committee for the Attraction of Foreign Investments. And I am asking the Ambassadors, Consuls and Directors of the Italian Trade Agency ICE to put the attraction of investments at the centre of their objectives.
A major priority is the candidacy of Milan as the new seat for the European Medicines Agency (EMA). We are working all together and if we are successful the overall annual revenues of the Milan pharmaceutical pole could increase by 1.7 billion. In these months we have organized great events on investments: the “Invest in Italy” Conference held at the Farnesina (13 June); the First Italian-Libyan Economic Forum held in Agrigento, that I have already mentioned (8 July); and also the Trieste Summit on the Western Balkans (12 July) that focused on investments.
We also made an effort to “improve ourselves”: with Business Visas being issued in 72 hours, new Start-up Visas and Visas for Investors. And with the creation of a new Office for Foreign Investments at the Farnesina.
The fifth and last point is that one of the pillars of economic diplomacy must be our leading position as cultural superpower….
Thanks to the Extraordinary Plan the “Brand Italy” made 300 million. Furthermore, we were allocated 19 million euros for the promotion of the Italian culture and Italian language abroad. This was an “extraordinary” endowment, similar to that of our European partners, but I hope it will become an “ordinary” item in time.
Defending the “Brand Italy” also means fully implementing abroad the 2017-2018 National Strategic Plan for the fight against counterfeiting, and dedicate increasing importance to the protection of intellectual property. These are issues on which we would like to organize a meeting with businesses in the next few months. We rely on your help.
I would like to conclude by stating the importance of continuing to be present at the local level with joint initiatives. I am referring to the “Roadshow” for the internationalization of SMEs” that I have enhanced this year by launching the “The Farnesina meets the businesses” events.
Thanks to this initiative we have touched almost all Italian Regions; we have listened to the needs of entrepreneurs and provided them with targeted services. These are “bottom-up” initiatives that help build a united Brand Italy system. And these initiatives work because they enable us to define increasingly winning strategies for our presence abroad.