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Di Stefano: For the export, a mix of guarantees and grants (Il Sole 24 Ore)

In the final rush to the May decree, increasingly similar in the drafts to a real financial manoeuvre, there is also a package of measures for exports.

“We are ready with essential interventions of first support – says Manlio Di Stefano, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Five Star Movement – and then to move for a more strategic relaunch approach when there are conditions for the world trade to get back on track”. In the measure, now former-April decree, postponed several times, should enter a line of state guarantees for credit of at least 200 million and a further sum of 250 million for non-repayable grants. Both mechanisms are based on the revolving Fund 394/81 for internationalisation managed by Simest (part of the Deposits and Loans Funds pole).

 « In the first case – adds the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – these guarantees are combined with the Fund to facilitate the access to subsidised loans for companies and eliminate the need to submit bank guarantees to Simest. At the same time, we add 250 million to the 70 million that, according to the “Cura Italia Decree”, we had already planned to allocate up to 50% of the amounts disbursed by Simest from the revolving Fund to non-repayable co-financing”. And, within the same scope of action, should be included the implementing decree which should unblock the new operation of the Fund (see next article), also opening it to interventions within the EU. The regulation, expected by the growth decree of April 2019, “is currently being signed by the Minister of Economy and we count on its publication within days”.

A further measure of the new decree-law for the economy, particularly awaited by companies in the exhibition sector, among the most affected by the economic damage resulting from the “lockdown”, is still being assessed in these days. And its inclusion in the Dl seems to be linked to the latest balance in terms of financial coverage.
“The idea – explains Di Stefano – is to raise the tax credit for the costs of participation in international trade fairs, in Italy or abroad, by increasing it from 30 to 40%. We are also thinking to consider it as a “compensation for damages” for events cancelled due to epidemic containment measures”. Currently, the tax credit for trade fairs has only a ceiling of 5 million for 2020; it should be increased to 100 million for 2020 and 2021.

“For trade fairs, however, we have already intervened with the Italian Trade Agency (Ice); so far 21 million have been paid out for 1,400 refund requests non-participation in cancelled events. Ice itself guarantees until March 2021 a free participation form in international exhibitions». The risk, however, is that much more is needed for an economic system where exports are worth almost 30% of GDP. Even the 200 billion in funding guaranteed by the State through Sace, announced as part of the liquidity package, is partly linked to the timing for the signing of the agreement with the Ministry of Economy and the entry into force of the Interministerial Committee for financial support to exports.

“The implementation process will become fully operational as soon as possible. And at the 12 sectoral tables that I coordinated at the Ministry, we discussed immediate measures but also the campaign for Made in Italy and strategies for structural recovery. We are trying to involve the widest possible range of actors, from the financial sector to start-ups for contributions on the innovation of the system that will travel more and more on digital channels. The numbers that emerged during the meetings are undoubtedly impressive, averaging 30% loss of turnover for the categories with the greatest propensity to export, with 90% of tourism examined by foreign customers. At the same time, we can find some comfort in the continuation, at least partially, of sales in the USA and the reopening of China. These two markets are destined to remain fundamental for us».

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