(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
President Giovanni Da Pozzo,
(President of the Chamber of Commerce of Udine, Vice President of Unioncamere Italia)
Vice-president Clara Maddalena, (Vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce)
President Matteo Tonon, (President of Confindustria Udine)
President Graziano Tilatti, (President of Confartigianato-Imprese FVG)
Director Guido Corso, (Director at RAI FVG)
Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen entrepreneurs,
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for your warm welcome. As you know, my visit here is part of a programme which has been taking me across Italy, from the North to the South, known as “The Farnesina Meets Companies”. This beautiful Italian region is characterised by an entrepreneurial spirit which not only spurs Italy's growth, but represents us in the four corners of the world. Looking back to Friuli's history, we can recall Jacopo Linussio, (Paularo 1691- Tolmezzo 1747), whose Tolmezzo-based plant, in the 18th century, was described as the largest textile manufacturing facility in Europe, in terms of the size of its premises and the quality of its products. It was estimated that Linussio's factory employed over 30,000 workers!
At present, Friuli has equally remarkable entrepreneurial success stories such as the ones of Fincantieri, Rizzani De Eccher, Danieli and Cimolai, to mention a few.
Yet, the extraordinary strength of this land lies precisely in the broad universe of small, medium and micro enterprises which have an exceptional capability to innovate, a solid work ethics, a strong sense of family and a community spirit.
There is a tradition of team-working between the Farnesina and many of Friuli's enterprises. By way of example, worthy of mention is the activity carried out in conjunction with the Italian Embassy in Beijing to set up the China Furniture Fair and the first edition of the Italian Design Day, which was celebrated in 100 cities across the world and involved many local enterprises. And, in the home of the San Daniele "prosciutto", allow me to mention our constant committment to protect the geographical indication labels, to fight against the phenomenon of "Italian sounding products" or "food traffic light labelling" policies.
I am here, today, with a two-fold aim: I want to hear and understand entrepreneurs' needs, and I wish to help you fully exploit the great potential that Farnesina's network in the world can offer.
Yet, I need to make an important premise: I have at heart the role of Italy in the world and, consequently, I believe in open markets. Because, for an exporting country such as Italy, protectionism is not the right answer. Italy relies on international trade for its growth.
I also believe in more and not less Europe because, in an increasingly larger global market, we would be weaker without Europe. Europe supports us in defending our products all over the world.
However, I also believe that Europe should better exploit the potential of the Single Market, of the Economic and Monetary Union, and of international trade policies.
It would be insane to quit the euro! We should not forget that the euro has garanteed the value of the homes, savings and pensions of our citizens. If we were to quit the euro, their value and the wealth of Italian citizens would seriously risk being halved.
The euro has not only protected us against the financial crisis, but is now offering us very low interest rates that allow us to pay mortgages and finance growth. In the past, when we had the 'Good Old Lira', interest rates skyrocketed to 20%.I am a believer of the free market, but I also believe in solidarity.
This is why I have been saying for quite a time that in Europe we must protect the interests of the most vulnerable and of all those who, for different reasons, are excluded from the benefits of globalization.And among the excluded we find the middle class and many young people - we must help them by developing more daring employment policies and by reducing fiscal pressure to hire more people.I said so also to the G7 entrepreneurs, the so -called "Business 7": unfortunately, too many global investors are still obsessed with the need to calculate the Eurozone 'risks' and forget to consider the 'opportunities' that the largest common market has to offer.Still on a positive note: in the past three months global trade has started to grow again at a pace that we had not seen for nearly seven years. Leaving aside any rethoric, there is a lot at stake. And you entrepreneurs also must make an extra effort to defend free trade.I am not saying that we have zero risks, but today they are political, rather than economic: the so-called 'fundamentals' of the European and Italian economy are improving.Italy needs this kind of confidence. And, as you well know, confidence is a crucial ingredient of growth: it could help to overcome the resistance of our banking system, which slows down growth; it would make credit lines available for companies that invest and families that consume. (PAUSE)We should also feel more confident when we look at foreign markets. Companies generate an ever growing demand for services necessary for their internationalization and our foreign policy must be a tool to support economic growth.Economic diplomacy is a strategic priority of my mandate at the Farnesina.The Farnesina does much more for Italian businesses than what is commonly known. But since what diplomacy can do for entrepreneurs is not fully perceived, I have decided to go meet them myself. I have set out on this journey on 31 January at the headquarters of Confindustria, where we presented Prometeia's independent study on the impact of economic diplomacy: over 1% of the GDP and 234,000 jobs, nearly 1% of the employed population. The study has confirmed that the Farnesina and its network of over 200 embassies and Consulates in 126 countries especially support SMEs: 61% of SMEs have actually signed a contract or won a tender thanks to our support.I went on mission to London and Milan to support the campaign that Milan launched to attract into the city banks, insurance companies, investment funds, enterprises, European Agencies and Organizations, that are leaving London in the wake of the Brexit.I then visited Turin, Italy's historical industrial capital, that is also becoming a major scientific and training centre.It is a great pleasure for me to be here today in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, because we count on this extraordinary land to develop new growth opportunities together.Some look at geopolitical scenarios and their unpredictability as a threat. On the contrary, we should also be able to benefit from the opportunities they offer.
Businesses have enormous opportunities: overseas markets accounted for 417 billion euros in exports and a 52 billion euro surplus in our trade balance in 2016. The Government is fully aware that the internationalization of Italian companies must be strongly supported. This is the reason for the adoption of an Extraordinary plan for the promotion of Made-in-Italy products and the allocation of 380 million euros for the 2015-2017 period.How can the Farnesina and its diplomatic-consular network assist you on foreign markets?My answer is that our doors are 'wide open' for your key relations with foreign markets in order to: attract investments; make investments; penetrate overseas markets and expand exports; conquer new markets; take part in tenders and also assist in case of litigations, and procedural and administrative obstacles.
Economic diplomacy manages and provides companies with a large body of information, contacts and relations. Market intelligence and institutional support are the pillars on which our action rests. This is so because our Embassies and Consulates are privileged interlocutors of local institutions and with the political and economic sectors as well as with the civil society where they operate. And because it is in our Embassies and Consulates that an overarching vision of Italian interests takes shape.This overarching vision of Italian interests in the world has spurred us to develop an integrated promotional strategy of 'Brand Italy ': it combines trade and the promotion of Italian language and culture, science and innovation and the uniqueness of our land.Brand Italy consists of beauty, creativity, and technological capacity, that has become the integrated 'Italian Way of Life' programme, which is promoted by every single element of our network.I will never tire repeating that besides being the second manufacturing country in Europe, we are also a superpower of lifestyle, culture and beauty. Friuli Venezia Giulia is a great example of this. And we should build on this primacy to relaunch our economy.Let's not forget that our enterprises represent the excellence of our creative industry and as such they are a very important part of the image of Italy abroad.But the most important message I would like to leave you with today is that the Embassies and the Consulates are your' home' abroad.Thank you very much.