1. ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ECONOMIES AND MARKETS IN THE WORLD
Italy is the third biggest economy in Eurozone and the eighth in the world with a GDP of about 2 thousand billion dollars (IMF, 2016). The Italian market offers many business opportunities, as it can count on more than 60 million inhabitants and a GDP per capita of more than 30,000 dollars. The net equity of the families is equal to 8 times their disposable income (a ratio higher than that of the United States, Germany and Canada), and the mean indebtedness per family is low – on average 82% of the disposable income (Banca d’Italia, 2013).
2. A STRATEGIC CENTRE AT THE CROSS-ROADS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETS
Italy represents an access gate to the European Single Market and its 500 million potential consumers, as well as an important connecting route between Southern Europe and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, it is in a strategic position with respect to the Countries of the Middle East and of North Africa, areas undergoing rapid growth and with 270 million potential consumers. The transport network in Italy is well developed and diversified: it includes 6,800 km of motorways (Aiscat, 2014), 1,000 km of track for high speed railway transport, with a maximum speed of 300 km/h (190 mph), and ports in key locations throughout the peninsula for sea transport and transhipment.
3. A WORLD LEADER IN THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR AND FOR EXPORTS
Italy has been the second largest manufacturing economy in Europe for over 30 years, behind Germany alone, and the sixth/seventh in the world (World Bank, 2015). The Country also plays a leading role in exports of manufacturing products on a world scale: it stands in the top few places in the ranking of countries in terms of commercial surplus for 935 products out of 5,117, holding first place for 235 products, second for 377 and third for 323 (Fondazione Edison, 2012).
4. THE STRENGTH OF THE ‘MADE IN ITALY’ BRAND AND OF THE MACHINERY SECTOR
Investing in Italy means having access to a unique know-how in exports in the machinery and automation sector, in fashion, in design and in the food and wine segment. Furthermore, companies investing in Italy can count on a dense network of SMEs and industrial districts present throughout the country and well positioned in the international supply chains, providing high quality intermediate goods. This acquires further value in the light of the rapid ascent of the middle class in the BRICS, that will soon exceed 800 million people, expressing an always increasing demand for top-of-the-range ‘Made in Italy’ products in the immediate future.
5. RESEARCH AND INNOVATION EXCELLENCES
Research and innovation are well integrated in the industrial processes, with peaks of acknowledged excellence in various branches of life sciences (primarily neurosciences), physics and engineering (e.g. robotics), social sciences and humanistic disciplines (first and foremost hi-tech archaeology). Italian researchers participate in – and often lead – several important transnational and European research centres, one of the main ones being the physics laboratory of the CERN, and are renowned in the international academic environment for the quality and dissemination of their publications.
6. A HIGHLY QUALIFIED AND COMPETITIVE WORKFORCE
The University system in Italy has ancient roots, it is dynamic and of excellent quality: there are more than 20 Italian Universities in the top 500 academic institutions in the world (Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2016) and there are over 300,000 new graduates every year. Considering its high academic qualification, the cost of labour in the Country remains relatively low with respect to the others in Eurozone, with an average hourly cost of 18% lower than France and 10% lower than Germany (Eurostat, 2015).
7. AN INIMITABLE RANGE OF ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL HERITAGE AND A UNIQUE COUNTRY BRAND
Every Italian city can boast evidence of unique historical heritage, resulting from the alternation of people and cultures lasting 2,500 years. Italy is the first country in terms of number of UNESCO world heritage sites (53 in 2017) and is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with over 50 million visitors per year (UNWTO, 2014). Analyses on “country branding” position Italy in first place in the ‘experience’ category (Country Brand Index, 2014), confirming that the ‘Made in Italy’ brand is universally appreciated as a synonym of quality, refinement and uniqueness.
8. A SOLID BACKGROUND OF PRO-INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS POLICIES
The linchpin of the industrial policy recently launched by the Italian legislator is strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises in all the sectors. The most significant measures include 50% tax credit for private investments in R&D, including the costs for personnel, and increased tax credits of 40% for purchasing new machinery (so-called super-ammortamento) – which increases to 150% for assets aiding the digitalisation of the production processes (iper-ammortamento). With the launch of the National Plan “Industria 4.0” at the end of 2016, the Italian tax system has become the second most favourable to digital investments and innovation among developed Countries (Digital Tax Index, 2017).
9. A GROWTH-ORIENTED PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION ON THE SIDE OF THE ENTERPRISES, AND OPEN TO REFORMS
A complex reform strategy is underway to make Italy a more business-friendly country, with less bureaucracy and better quality and efficiency in the sectors of education and justice. Apart from the already mentioned Industria 4.0 Plan and a high-technological value state-of-the-art policy for startups and innovative SMEs, in the last few years the tax and labour legislation has been revised with a view to greater flexibility, the exploitation of oil and gas fields has been facilitated and new financial instruments have been prepared for the property sector, beside dedicated legal systems for foreign investors.
10. A COUNTRY OPEN TO FOREIGN INVESTMENTS
Multinational enterprises have a growing weight in the Italian economy: they employ 11% of the workforce, produce more than 20% of the national turnover and they manufacture 26% of the exported domestic goods (Istat, 2014). According to the FDI Confidence Index, Italy was in thirteenth place in 2017, above the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland (A.T. Kearney, 2017).