The Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio, together with the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano, opened the webinar “Mercati in diretta, focus Stati Uniti (Live markets, the focus of the U.S.)”, organised by MAECI and ICE Agency in collaboration with the Embassy and ICE Office in New York. In the panel on the post-Covid U.S. market dedicated to companies, the Director-General for the Country System of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Angeloni, the President of ICE Ferro, the Director-General Luongo and the Coordinator of the American Laspina network also spoke. The event was attended by more than 1,600 Italian companies, mainly SMEs, operating in the United States or having an interest in the American market, and about 600 followed the presentations and participated in the Q&A session.
As highlighted by Undersecretary Di Stefano, the United States is Italy’s third-largest trading partner and the first outside the European Union, to which we are united by a “unique and solid” relationship made up of historical knowledge, fuelled by cultural affinities and a strong community of Italian origin, but also by the continuous discovery of new opportunities. The many exceptional instruments approved by the Government for about 1.4 billion Euros in the Care, Liquidity and Relaunch decrees are at the service of our exports in essential markets like the American one.
With a bilateral exchange of goods and services that exceeded 100 billion dollars in 2019 and a trade surplus favourable to us of over 33 billion dollars, the presence of our companies is driven by a privileged bilateral relationship, a climate particularly advantageous to foreign investments, the strong integration of our production systems and the propensity of our companies towards innovation and the use of increasingly advanced technologies. The mix of Italian companies in the USA is proof of this: on the one hand, significant mutual investments, on the other hand, thousands of SMEs in the most diverse sectors. For its part, Director-General Angeloni has outlined a framework of promotional strategies that are part of the broader context of the Export Pact developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Varricchio described the impact of Covid-19 on the American economy. In the face of a sharp contraction of the economy in the first quarter, the Administration and Congress have launched extraordinary fiscal and monetary policy measures for a total of 3,000 billion dollars, in addition to further interventions by the FED for 2,000 billion. In this scenario, the Ambassador continued, “in the face of concerns regarding some sectors of our exports and the persistence of duties on some of our goods, the fighting spirit of our entrepreneurs and the quality of our products can help us to overcome the current moment of crisis, in the awareness that the USA represents an essential reference point for the economic recovery of our country”. Varricchio stressed that “the Italian System in the USA is ready to accompany and support through integrated promotion actions adapted in an extremely flexible way to the changing needs”.
The President of ICE Ferro pointed out that Made in Italy exports to the United States are characterized by a high degree of multi-sector diversification and recalled that digitalization and training are the two pillars on which ICE aims to support the restart of our SMEs. At the centre of attention are digital, virtual trade fairs, the strengthening of e-commerce, special projects with large-scale distribution and essential platforms such as Amazon.
The Coordinator of the JEV network in the USA, Laspina, explained in detail the many activities planned for the coming months, confirming the services and modules for trade fairs offered free of charge, the start-up program just published, and the articulated framework of actions in the main sectors such as machinery, fashion, jewellery, wood-furniture, food and wine. Strong emphasis on digital services and investment attraction.
These are new modes of intervention, which accelerate processes already underway in the USA – as confirmed by the testimonial of the private world Giovanni Colavita – and which can represent a new opportunity for expansion in a market of over 300 million inhabitants with high purchasing power, already very oriented towards online purchases.
The first promotional actions will also be oriented towards new targets such as metropolitan hubs less beaten but of great importance and towards lesser-known U.S. states, also taking advantage of the fact that they have been largely spared by the epidemic.
For this reason, the Government’s measures in favour of exports, Italian but also American soft loans, SACE’s public guarantees, and figures such as temporary export managers and digital export managers are particularly essential tools.
Among the conditions to be considered for the “new normal” – underlined the Ambassador – “we must look at the so-called re-shoring of productions from China and other countries to the USA or to partners with “trusting” characteristics. In this process, which will not stop with the exit from the emergency, the partnership with Europe will benefit, and Italy must take advantage”.
“Never waste a crisis” – concluded the Ambassador – “the U.S. network is ready; the American economy wants to restart, and innovation will be a key element of the recovery”.