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Luigi Di Maio: ” All Foreign Ministry’s measures for small and medium-sized enterprises in the South” (il Quotidiano)

The pandemic crisis has forced us to redefine the Foreign Ministry’s action to support enterprises, especially small and medium-sized ones (…).

The pandemic crisis has forced us to redefine the Foreign Ministry’s action to support enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized ones, to foster their recovery through better positioning in international markets. This is the reason why in 2020 we created a new strategy, the “Pact for Export”, with which we redesigned the methods for public support to exports, revising their goals and financial endowment, which currently amounts to 7.2 billion euros of direct resources. Also thanks to this action, 2021 was the year of recovery for Italian exports, which set a new record with 516 billion euros.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine, however, has brought a variable of strong uncertainty into the macroeconomic picture, highlighting some fragilities in the international economic order. We are witnessing new scenarios of instability in global markets, exacerbated by bottlenecks in the supply chains of raw materials and semi-finished goods and by problems in logistics chains. Rising energy costs severely penalise our production system, in which the processing industry plays a central role.

Faced with these difficulties, we have taken two important support measures under Fund 394/81, to which 1.8 billion euros have been allocated. The first measure, which became operational a few days ago, provides for financing at particularly favourable rates (with non-repayable contributions up to a maximum of 40 per cent), useful for finding alternative destinations for our exports, in view of making up for the market shares lost in the countries affected by hostilities. The second measure, which will be operational as from September, envisages the same mechanism for the companies that face severe price increases in the supply of critical raw materials.

All Foreign Ministry’s measures to support the internationalisation of businesses have paid particular attention to Southern Italian companies. In May 2021 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding that established a structural partnership between the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for the South and Territorial Cohesion, to encourage the Southern Italian companies’ internationalisation strategies and foster the best use of the public support tools available to them. In this regard, we have defined an articulate set of projects in the areas of training and information, promotion of territories, and support for the supply chains in the South, to be financed with the resources that will be allocated by the Ministry for Industry and Economic Development (MISE) within the framework of the National Operational Plan “Enterprises and Competitiveness”.

Lastly, 40 per cent of the resources of the Foreign Ministry’s project under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) to support the internationalisation of SMEs have gone to Southern enterprises. It is an extraordinary result, considering that Southern companies’ access to the ordinary Fund 394 traditionally does not exceed 10 per cent on average.

With the same inclusive approach with which we launched the Pact for Export in 2020, we are ready to adopt new support measures and intend to reshape the Pact and put the territories at the centre. Last Friday, in Nola, we therefore organized a new opportunity for dialogue and exchange of views between institutions, associations, and businesses in the Campania region, useful for defining “tailor-made” initiatives that foster the internationalisation of local companies and production. The event organised tomorrow by Undersecretary Dalila Nesci in Vibo Valentia is a further step along this path. We will follow up this commitment by maintaining this inclusive approach and listening to the territories’ and companies’ needs. This is the basis for the public-private partnership underlying the Pact for Export and ensures its flexibility and evolution to face the country’s needs.

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