“Italy is seen as a country that’s committed to change but that still hasn’t changed enough. To put aside their hesitation, US and international players want clear rules, a responsive bureaucracy, taxes that aren’t excessive, a functioning justice system and a solid digital infrastructure,” according Ernst & Young in a report presented in New York by Donato Iacovone, CEO of EY Italy and the firm’s managing partner for the Mediterranean region.
When this happens, “Italy will once again become one of the best countries to invest and do business in. It is open to a dialogue with the US and is a bridge to the Mediterranean, with geopolitical and business interests ranging from Iran to Morocco,” said Iacovone, speaking at the Italy Meets the United States conference.
The report, called Italy: A New Deal, A Better Future, said that the “better future” being referred to depends on “not losing momentum on reforms, on completing them, and on putting them into practice.”
It’s an agenda that rests in part on digital revolution “able to transform Italy’s public sector, making it among the fastest and least ponderous” in Europe.
“We have a window of a few years to speed up the turnaround we’ve started to put in place, taking advantage of new technology. Otherwise, we’ll miss the chance,” Iacovone said.
Two phenomena emerge from the study, only somewhat encouraging.
“Direct investment in Italy rose from €0.09 billion in 2012 to €21.9 billion in 2014, and last year international companies accounted for 85% of all mergers in the country.”
But, although big US names like GE and Cisco are in the mix, “the overall investment level remains rather low.”
And, even with a significant increase in Made In Italy exports, to the US in particular, the level is still “nowhere close to realizing Italy’s potential.”
The challenge is “to capitalize on these encouraging developments.”
It’s important to push small and mid-sized businesses “to join together to be able better compete in a global village,” helping them to become more international.
Italy can promote its role, along with being the 8th biggest economy in the world, as a point of access to the 500 million consumers in the European Union as well as a bridge to North Africa and the Middle East, and another 270 million there.
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