• Italy's news in English
 

'The crisis is extremely healthy for Italy'

Published: 22 Aug 2014 16:59 GMT+02:00

Since 2011 Italy has seen three prime ministers promise to reform the country and kick-start the economy. Yet with a return to recession earlier this year and unemployment at 12.3 percent, optimism in Italy has hit a new low.

But for Fernando Napolitano, chairman & CEO of Italian Business & Investment Initiative (IBII), it’s time outsiders start seeing the wealth of opportunity in Italy.

“Italy is a rich country, capital is not scarce,” he tells The Local. Tasked with fostering business ties between Italy and the US, based in New York, Napolitano says investors do still have faith in Italy.

“All the major [New York] funds have significant stakes in both banks and public utilities in Italy. This is because they believe these companies are sound, the economy is indeed in crisis but will rebound,” he says.

Despite attracting some cash from abroad, Italy has however failed to successfully sell itself internationally. Italy ranks 14th in global investor economies, falling behind countries including South Korea and Sweden, according to a UN report.

“The opportunities are still in Italy’s traditional sectors, the famous four Fs: fashion, food, furniture and Ferrari. With the exception of Ferrari, the others are still assets that by and large are not being exploited the way they should be,” Napolitano says.

While he describes tax rates as “unbearable” and agrees bureaucracy impedes investment, these are not seen as the main barriers for foreign investors.

“We remain a country that does not speak in English to the rest of the world...This is the weakest area we have,” the IBII chairman says.

Foreign investors pick up on alarming headlines on the Italian economy and, without bilingual business owners able to explain the reality, “everything gets disproportionately inflated”.

“Overall, Italy is isolated,” Napolitano says, although there have been some notable success stories.

Eataly has marketed one of the four Fs - food - to huge success, with stores selling Italian products opening across the country and around the world. Eyewear firm Luxottica is also cited as an Italian company gone global, as the owner of a string of brands including Oakley and Ray-Ban.

Italy is also a leader in innovation, coming second to the UK for the highest number of high-tech enterprises in the EU.

But the limited number of international brands points to the second skill missing in Italy: professional management.

“There are a lot of great firms with excellent products that do not have the managerial skills to expand globally,” Napolitano says.

Investors must see this as an opportunity, by exporting managers to Italy who can turn highly-developed creative industries into companies on a global scale.

While the economic crisis has brought hardship in Italy, Napolitano argues that Italians are now more willing to accept external support and are backing change. Being tied to the euro means the government is also under strict orders to reform and attract business from abroad.

“The crisis is extremely healthy for Italy,” he tells The Local. “It lets everyone understand that the current state of affairs cannot be managed like this any longer.” 

Don't miss a story about Italy - join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italy's hoteliers win price war against Booking.com
Booking.com is still embroiled in negotiations in other European countries. Photo: Booking.com

Italy's hoteliers win price war against Booking.com

Hotel reservation website Booking.com has agreed to allow hoteliers in France, Italy and Sweden to charge cheaper internet prices after a spate of legal challenges, the French competition authority said on Tuesday. READ  

Italian passport 14th 'most powerful' in world
Photo: Shutterstock

Italian passport 14th 'most powerful' in world

The passports of 13 countries are regarded as more “powerful” than the one offered by Italy, according to a new survey. READ  

Italy's most loved city mayor sits in Florence
Florentines are more supportive of their mayor than any other city dwellers in Italy. Florence photo: Shutterstock

Italy's most loved city mayor sits in Florence

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's replacement as mayor of Florence is the country's most loved city leader, gaining popularity since coming to power, an annual survey has shown. READ  

Captain's errors caused Med shipwreck
A migrant centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Photo: AFP

Captain's errors caused Med shipwreck

UPDATED: Italian authorities said on Tuesday that the Mediterranean's deadliest migrant boat disaster had been caused by a combination of mistakes by the captain and the ship being impossibly overcrowded. READ  

'Identity crisis prompts gay suicide'
The surgeon and professor said teachers should address children's "identity discomfort" if pupils were found to be gay. Gay couple photo: Shutterstock

'Identity crisis prompts gay suicide'

An Italian brain surgeon has claimed gay people commit suicide not because of the pressures of living in a homophobic society, but because they suffer from an identity crisis. READ  

Will latest migrant drama prod Europe into action?
Rescued migrants off the Libyan coast arrive at the harbor in Catania. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Will latest migrant drama prod Europe into action?

EU nations have long had the recipes for managing migrant flows and sharing out the burden of illegal migration but have lacked the political will for action despite multiple dramas in the Mediterranean, critics say. READ  

The Local List
Top ten problems of growing up multilingual
Growing up speaking more than one language is not always a blessing. Photo: Shutterstock

Top ten problems of growing up multilingual

Although it may sound to some like a dream, being brought up multilingual can have its downsides. Trilingual journalist Anna Pujol-Mazzini lists ten of the most common problems. READ  

Brits in Italy could face health 'black hole'
Photo: Richard Pohle/AFP

Brits in Italy could face health 'black hole'

British people living in other European countries could find themselves forced to take out private health insurance, due to a clampdown on expats using the country’s National Health Service. READ  

EU proposes migrant crisis action plan
The EU has unveiled an action plan to stem the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean after the latest disastrous loss of life. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

EU proposes migrant crisis action plan

The EU unveiled a ten-point action plan on Monday to stem the tide of migrants crossing the Mediterranean after the latest disastrous loss of life, promising to step up both control and rescue operations. READ  

Migrant boat tragedy
EU to hold migrant crisis summit on Thursday
EU president Donald Tusk is considering an emergency summit on illegal immigration. Photo: John Thys/AFP

EU to hold migrant crisis summit on Thursday

EU president Donald Tusk is to host an emergency summit on the migration crisis on Thursday, after the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean in which more than 700 people are feared to have perished. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
National
How to live in Italy without speaking Italian
Politics
Revealed: the Italians who worship Mussolini
National
My Italian habits that foreigners just don’t get
International
Did the Pope reject France's envoy to the Vatican because he was gay?
Culture
Illnesses that only seem to strike Italians
Ferrara lawyers want crucifixes back in court
National
'Italy’s probably the worst place for business'
Ten ways Italians celebrate Easter
National
'I don’t see signs of a turn in the economy'
Business & Money
Ten 'Italian' firms that aren't actually Italian
Opinion
Why are Italians such crazy drivers?
Culture
Pompeii Villa boosts Italy heritage hopes
National
'I want Knox extradited if verdict upheld': lawyer
Culture
Seven ways to get tongue-tied in Italian
Technology
Scientists reconstruct DNA from fascist sperm
National
Italian police: 'Isis flag' was jacket in tree
National
Furore over Naples nude nun billboard
Politics
Berlusconi: Two decades of courtroom saga
Health
Italy's C-section rate among Europe's highest
National
Rome bans Ben Hur filming at ancient site
International
Why Libya is ringing alarm bells in Italy
National
How Islamic college plan has split Italian town
National
James Bond's best Italian moments
Sport
Purrfect catch: Italian twins land giant catfish
National
VIDEO: Massive sinkhole opens up in Naples
Culture
Italians 'don't love' their language
National
In pictures: Italians mock Isis on Twitter
Opinion
Could Isis terrorists really invade Italy?
International
EU to increase migrant aid to Italy
National
Lampedusa: Tiny Italian island swamped by migrant tide
Culture
Italy sells off Mussolini buildings to raise cash
National
Italians are Europe's most reckless drivers
National
Why flirty Italians still don't do online dating
Gallery
Top 10: the most romantic places to propose in Italy
National
Top 10: your favourite Italian words
International
Bond meets Snowden: The HSBC whistleblower
Education
Ten common mistakes Italians make in English
National
What makes life in Bolzano so good?
National
Swiss town's ploy against workers living in Italy 'not racist'
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Travel
How the weak euro is boosting tourism to Italy
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,604
jobs available