«This is what we want for Italy» says Minister Luigi Di Maio. In a country where the economy is always on the brink of crisis, the Foreign Minister is happy to shine the spotlight onto a success story from the deep south of the Country, from Battipaglia, embodied in the achievement by the employees of the "Treofan" plant, who fought as best they could to keep their jobs – and won, and by a manager from Bergamo in the north, but with his heart in this area of Campania, Antonio Foresti, owner of "Jcoplastic", who ‘s secured a future for these 51 warriors. The renewed hope exemplified by this success story can clearly be read on the uplifted faces of the men and women that Di Maio will meet today, at the "Treofan" plant, which he had already visited 15 months ago, at the beginning of the nightmare, when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour, and returning there today, at 4.30 pm, as Foreign Minister, at the beginning of a new dream.
The last months have not been easy, but now the jobs of the 51 employees of the former "Treofan" plant are safe: after the joyful meeting, at the Ministry for Economic Development, they thanked you with a video...
I’m happy to embrace all the employees of the Treofan plant at Battipaglia, which I will be pleased to meet later today. They never gave up. I also wish to thank the MPs Cosimo Adelizzi and Anna Bilotti, who unrelentingly dedicated themselves to solving this problem right from the start. My thanks also go the Ministry for Economic development and its amazing staff and, of course, to my friend the current Minister Stefano Patuanelli. This is what we want for Italy, fearless and resolute people, who don’t shy away from the battles they believe in, with the support of a caring State.
"Jcoplastic" has taken over the Battipaglia based division of "Treofan": what’s your opinion?
The framework agreement for the re-industrialisation of the "Treofan" plant at Battipaglia, signed last 20 February, has saved all 51 jobs and ensured that the company will continue to operate in a complementary sector: a great result, thanks to the teamwork of the institutions involved.
What is the message that comes from Battipaglia?
That the Italian production system is solid, vital and capable of attracting investments and that, if we focus our efforts on a valid project and present it properly to investors, we can achieve our goals.
It’s not just about jobs then, is it?
Absolutely not. In fact, I’d like to highlight the fact that this successful operation has not just prevented a business in the south from closing down, it has also preserved the socio-economic fabric of the entire area, made of households and values.
On 26 December 2018 you were Minister of Labour, now you’re the Foreign Minister...
Yes, but even in this new job my priority remains supporting Italian businesses, and I’ve managed to strengthen the capabilities of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in this sector.
By providing for the transfer to the Foreign Ministry, since last September, of the competences for promoting foreign trade, which were once part of the Ministry for Economic Development. Thanks to this reform, the Foreign Ministry’s network, with its 128 Embassies, 80 Consulates and 83 Institutes of Culture, has been strengthened with 78 Ice and 12 Cassa depositi e prestiti offices, through "Sace" and "Simest". Their work is now specifically to support Italian businesses abroad.
In the worst years of the crisis, Battipaglia lost over a thousand jobs, most of them in multinational companies. How can we promote abroad the many small and medium enterprises of the many"Battipaglias" of Italy?
We have adopted a two-pronged approach: continuing the process of internationalisation undertaken in recent years and extending it to include small and medium businesses, which are the true backbone of our Country’s social and economic fabric, promoting investment opportunities from abroad, especially in the southern regions.
You will be visiting Battipaglia at the end of a whistlestop tour in your home region of Campania: is the region still alive?
I’ve had many fruitful meetings in these few days, beginning with the Italy-France summit, which strengthened our deep friendship with France. I took advantage of my presence here to visit a hub of excellence in this Region, the Polo Leonardo at Pomigliano d'Arco, a fundamental facility of the national aeronautics industry, where I inaugurated the Aerotech Campus. "Leonardo" is one of Italy’s leading companies, with worldwide operations: this proves that it is possible to combine a structured presence in Italy, even in the south, with a competitive edge abroad.