National | Invest in Italy Roadshow

Investment opportunities for Japanese companies increase

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Italy offers a good balance of quality labor cost competitiveness, and Japanese companies can benefit from choosing Italy as a European research and development center in Europe, a country official said.

There is a Japanese pharmaceutical company that invested in Italy to export their products back to Japan because the quality of human resources and cost competitiveness is high in Italy, said Stefano Nigro, director of the Italian Trade Agency’s Foreign Direct Investment Department.

“Japanese companies buy Italian companies because they want ability in research and development,” he said during an interview with The Japan Times after an Invest in Italy Roadshow, a seminar to promote investment in Italy to Japanese companies.

Japan is the seventh-largest country in terms of foreign direct investment in Italy, lagging behind five European countries and the U.S. As of June, there were 542 companies in Italy owned by Japanese, according to Nigro.

Japanese companies outgrew their counterparts from other countries in foreign direct investment in Italy.

Revenue of Japanese companies in Italy grew 25 percent from 2016 to 2018, compared with a 6 percent increase for companies based in other countries, while employee numbers grew 6 percent for Japanese companies in Italy in the same period, compared with 2 percent for those from other countries, Nigro said.

Nigro said his department’s activities aim to convince foreign companies to invest in Italy, as well as support existing investors in Italy. “We are currently supporting 18 Japanese companies,” he added.

“We expect to increase investment opportunities for Japanese companies. Our perspective is that we will continue to have a good relationship with Japan,” said Nigro.

Among many successful Japanese investments in Italy, he said, one Japanese manufacturer bought a small manufacturing company, grew its business, and last March built a new factory, which is now the exporting center for the company.

Nigro sees chances for Japanese companies’ direct investment mainly in the manufacturing industry, such as aerospace and machinery, adding that 60 percent of helicopters in Japan were made in Italy.

He also expects Japanese companies to see increasing investment opportunities in the Italian high-tech sector.

Another point he wanted to stress is that his department is constantly working on reducing bureaucratic steps for foreign companies to receive approval for direct investment, including, for example, shortening processes to obtain working visas for employees.

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