Milan can attract businesses that leave London post-Brexit: Italian FM

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Milan can attract businesses that leave London post-Brexit: Italian FM
The cathedral in the northern business hub of Milan. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

"Who says the businesses leaving London have to go to Frankfurt?" the Italian foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said on Tuesday, in a press conference which touched on Brexit, Donald Trump, and promoting the 'Made in Italy' brand abroad.


He argued that businesses planning to relocate after Britain's vote to leave the EU should set their sights on Milan, and said that the government was setting up a 'task force' to attract businesses to the northern city.

"The government is Team Milan in the post-Brexit game [to attract businesses]" said the minister, speaking at the 'Economic Diplomacy' conference organized by Italy's employers' federation Confindustria. "Milan has all the numbers to attract these investments, and we have the ability to attract the companies that decide to leave London."

Alfano addressed the impact of the Foreign Ministry on economic growth, for example in promoting Italian businesses abroad and supporting companies with international growth.

"We have a chance to be even stronger," said Alfano. "At this time of resurgent protectionism, it is unacceptable for some to expect to come and frolic in our market, and then our businesses get stuck in their political and bureaucratic constraints, which create problems."

His comments could be seen as attacking the British prime minister Theresa May's comments on Brexit - or US President Donald Trump's 'America First' economic policy.

The minister added that he planned to put a particular emphasis on taking small and medium-sized businesses abroad, and promoting the 'Made in Italy' brand, by taking action against fraudulent uses of Italian branding.

Online sales of foreign fake parmesan alone cost the country €60 million each year, according to Italy's Agricultural Ministry, and despite crackdowns from the government, Italian producers are left struggling to compete with foreign counterfeit products which are quicker and cheaper to make.

At Tuesday's conference, Alfano also spoke about US President Donald Trump and his temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Having said earlier that the EU was in no position to criticize the ban, Alfano made it clear that he did not agree with Trump's strategy, saying: "We have been able to marry humanity, solidarity and security in a country that has so far had zero attacks, in a world where there's no such thing as zero risk".

"At the same time we have saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Alfano added, referring to the work of rescuers who have brought tens of thousands of migrants to Italian shores following boat capsizes.

The Italian foreign minister said that in imposing the ban, Trump was "doing what he said he would during the campaign, he's doing what he promised and we don't share [his views]," financial daily Il Sole 24 ore reported.

IN DEPTH: Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub



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