Follina, 2 May 2017 Mayor Collet (Mayor of Follina),
President Nardi (President of the Consorzio Tutela Conegliano Valdobbiadene),
President Serena (President of the Consorzio Asolo Prosecco Superiore Docg),
President Zanette (President of the Consorzio Prosecco Doc),
Dear Members of the Business Community,
It is with great pleasure that I am here with you today. This visit is part of a program called “The Farnesina meets the Business World” that is taking me all over Italy, from the North to the South.
This morning I was in Padua and Treviso where I met many businessmen from the Veneto Region who – like you – represent our Country throughout the world and are contributing to the growth of Italy.
The Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco is one of the symbols of the entrepreneurial skills of the Venetian people, but it is also an Italian success story in the world.
In 2016, thanks to a surprising surge in turnover and exports, the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene business district ranked first in the list of 149 industrial districts in Italy.
These results are possible thanks to the special ability you have in combining tradition with innovation and in promoting the territory while reaching out to global markets.
The production figures for Prosecco are astounding: more than 500 million bottles, a turnover of 2.5 billion, 13,500 producers, 1,380 wine-making cooperatives and 300 bottlers.
However, these excellent results must not be a distraction from the challenges that your companies have to face every day in order to continue being competitive in the global markets.
One of the top priorities of economic diplomacy is the protection of the “Made in Italy brand”. We are committed to defending our geographical indications, combating the ‘Italian sounding’ phenomenon and the food ‘traffic light’ policies, and having actions under way to protect out intellectual and industrial property.
More in general, economic diplomacy contributes to fighting against the more or less covert forms of protectionism and specious non-tariff barriers by taking firm positions in the negotiations on free trade agreements.
I care about Italy’s role in the world and for this reason I believe in open markets. For an exporting Country like Italy, protectionism is never the right answer. Italy’s growth relies on international trade.
Leaving aside all rhetoric, the stakes are high and you, as entrepreneurs, must step up your efforts to defend free trade.
Today I am here with a twofold objective: I want to listen to you to understand the needs of the business world and I want to help you make full use of the potential of the Farnesina’s network in the world.
Economic diplomacy is a strategic priority of my mandate at the Farnesina. There is a growing demand for services by businesses that want to expand abroad and foreign politics is an instrument that supports them in their economic growth.
Today the Farnesina does much more for businesses than people actually realize and since entrepreneurs do not have full awareness of what diplomacy can do for them, I have decided to reach out to them.
So far I have travelled to Milan, Turin, Udine, and Pescara, but my itinerary began on 31st January in Confindustria where we presented an independent survey carried out by Prometeia on the impact on economic diplomacy.
According to the estimates, the tenders and contracts awarded to Italian companies that received support from the diplomatic-consular network account for more than 1% of the GDP and 234,000 jobs.
The study confirmed that the Farnesina and its network of more than 200 Embassies and Consulates in 126 Countries provide assistance above all to small and medium-sized enterprises: 61% of the SMEs that signed contracts or won tenders did so thanks to our support.
But more can and must be done! Some see the geopolitical scenarios and the unpredictability that characterizes them as a threat. Instead, we need to seize the opportunities that they offer!
And the opportunities for businesses are huge: in 2016 foreign markets generated 417 billion euros in exports for Italy and a trade surplus of 52 billion.
The government is fully aware of the need to vigorously support the internationalization of our companies. For this reason an extraordinary Plan has been adopted for the promotion of the Made in Italy brand with an allocation of 380 million euros for the 2015-2017 three-year period.
In particular, I would like to recall that 13 million have been earmarked under the Plan for campaigns against the ‘Italian sounding’ products that also include Prosecco.
As regards promotion activities, Prosecco was on the “Tables of the World” on the occasion of the first “Week of Italian cuisine in the world” in 2016. Thanks to the more than 1300 events organized by our diplomatic-consular network, our premium agrifood products were presented in more than 105 countries.
Furthermore, in 2016 an ad hoc US Wine Table was set up with the aim of further expanding our wine exports – including Prosecco – to the U.S. which is a top priority market.
We are also paying attention to the more distant and complex markets that also have a very high potential. I am referring to China, an extremely interesting market where often it is difficult for Italian products to become popular. In these situations, the work of our diplomatic-consular nework is of crucial importance. An example is the recent agreement signed by the Italian Wine Association and the giant Alibaba, with the support of our Embassy in Beijing to facilitate and expedite the distribution of Italian wines in China.
The Farnesina supports you also in your candidature for the UNESCO World Heritage List. We know that you have taken the initiative of preparing your candidacy and we truly appreciate the huge efforts that you are making in conjunction with the local institutions, the Prefecture, producers and consumers.
Besides this, what else can the Farnesina and the diplomatic-consular network do to assist you in foreign markets?
I wold like to remind you that our doors are “wide open” for all your main relationships abroad: to attract investments; to make investments; to penetrate and expand your exports; to conquer new markets; to prepare to take part in a tender; and to also settle disputes and cope with regulatory and administrative obstacles.
Economic diplomacy manages a wealth of information, contacts and relationships that it puts at the disposal of Italian companies. Market intelligence and institutional support are the cornerstones of our actions. Because our Embassies and Consulates are the privileged interlocutors of local institutions and of the political, economic and civil society milieus of the Countries in which they operate. And because in our Embassies and Consulates an overall view is developed of Italian interests.
This comprehensive view of Italian interests in the world induced us to develop an integrated promotion strategy of the “Made in Italy” brand that merges the commercial dimension with the promotion of our language and culture, science and innovation capacity and of the unique products of our territories.
It is a brand that reflects beauty, creativity and technological know-how, which we have translated into the integrated program that goes by the name of “Living Italian style”, promoted by each component of our network.
I will never tire of repeating all over the world that besides being the second manufacturing Country in Europe we are also a superpower in lifestyle, culture and beauty. And we must leverage this primacy also to boost our economy.
But the most important message I would like to leave you today is that the Embassies and Consulates are your “home” when you are abroad.