FDI Attraction: the Italian way

Time to invest in Italy

Time to invest in Italy

Around the world, looking for partners

by Carmine Fotina

The Italian government's Invest in Italy road show kicked off October 7, starting with Turkey.

Alongside the G-20/OECD Global Forum on International Investment, Turkey is the first of 20 stops of the roadshow organized by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade Agency to attract foreign investment.

Italy is presenting a case that ranges from restructured governance to measures to improve competition, along with a possible of potential investment opportunities and corporate and real estate assets to buy or to create partnerships with.

The ambitious goal is ultimately to generate $20 billion additional investment in Italy.

As for policy, among the most interesting is the Doing Business Act (a provision being considered to move up higher in the international competitively rankings) and the launch, today in Istanbul, of the first representative Desks to be established in major international financial capitals to help guide foreign investors to Italy.

The Unblock Italy law last year has handed responsibility to the Ministry of Economic Development, through vice minister Carlo Calenda, for the coordination of an inter-ministerial committee to get involved in specific cases.

The overarching strategy will still be handled at the prime minister’s office in Palazzo Chigi, with a major role for the prime minister's advisor Marco Simoni.

The government is counting on being able to break the impasse triggered by the Financial Court's decision to modify the agreement between the Italian Trade Agency and Invitalia related to human resources needed for the effort to attract foreign investment.

The new department of the Italian Trade Agency should be fully operative on Nov. 9. It will have a front-end function with institutional investors and follow entire project life cycles, while Invitalia - notes the ministry - will overseas incentive policies.

Besides attracting fresh capital, through coordinating with local officials, the goal is also to provide a sense of certainty to those who have already chosen to invest in Italy. Currently there are about 15 potential investors: if all their projects come to fruition, it would amount to about €6 billion in additional investment.

From the end of last tear, according to the Italian Trade Agency, around 6% of interested investors found a solution in Italy.

The plan to attract foreign investment is rooted in the previous government.

It was Prime Minister Enrico Letta who, in late 2013, passed the provision called “Destinazione Italia,” with specific measures. There were 50 of them, of which only 65% have been realized.

The current government inherited that dossier with the intention of moving the project forward, accelerating if possible implementation time, and is now working on a new plan entitled “Doing Business.”

Italy is still in 56th place in international competitiveness rankings, and now the government has started a working group to create a package of measures and improvements to current procedures in order to help boost the nation further up the rankings.

Why Invest in Italy
It's certainly not enough to reorganize and focus. Attracting investors requires hard numbers, trends and projections that can gather strength from the start of Italy's economic recovery and our potential in terms of competitiveness.

The government, in its presentations, points to the latest figures: GDP is predicted to grow by 0.9% in 2015 and 1.6% in 2016; industrial production up 0.7% in the first seven months of 2015 year-on-year; an 87% surge in M&A; a forward jump of eight places in A.T. Kearney's 2015 FDI Confidence Index.

In addition, exports grew 5.2% in the first seven months, a strong improvement in the balance of trade in 2014 (+47%), retaining market share in manufacturing (which originates 74% of exports), which has been the best globally outside of Germany since 2000.

The unrealized potential of small and mid-sized export-oriented companies is huge and according to experts at Palazzo Chigi, justify the double prediction of 22,000 new export companies and €50 billion worth of additional export goods in 2016.