Gateway to European Market
Italy is the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone and the 8th largest in the world, with a GDP of about 2 trillion dollars (IMF, 2016). Its domestic market offers several business opportunities, with a population of more than 60 million and a GDP per capita of more than 30,000 dollars. The net wealth of Italian households is 8 times their disposable income (a higher ratio than US, Germany and Canada) and their indebtedness remains relatively low – on average, 82% of disposable income (Bank of Italy, 2013).
Italy is a key gateway to the European Single Market and its 500 million consumers, but is also close to Northern Africa and the Middle East and their further 270 million potential customers; at the same time, it represents an ideal bridge between Southern Europe and Central and Eastern EU countries. Its transportation network includes 6,800 km of motorways (AISCAT, 2014), and over 1,000 km of high-speed railways with top speeds of over 300 km/h (190 mph), as well as ports in strategic locations for maritime freight and transshipment.
A comprehensive reform strategy is in place to build a more friendly business climate, simplifying and adapting regulations, improving education and justice. Besides the already mentioned “Industria 4.0” plan, and a comprehensive policy strategy for hi-tech innovative startups, in the last few years the labour code has been overhauled, more flexibility to conclude tax agreements has been introduced, the exploitation of oil and gas resources has been eased, new financial tools for real estate are being made available, and dedicated business courts for foreign investors have been set up.
Today, multinational companies represent an important part of the Italian economy: industrial foreign affiliates now employ 11% of total workers, produce more than 20% of domestic turnover, and export 26% of national exported goods (ISTAT, 2014). According to the FDI Confidence Index, Italy ranks 13th overall in 2017, outstripping countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland (A.T. Kearney, 2017).
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