National | Invest in Italy Roadshow

Strengthening partnership via emphasis on research

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Italian Under-Secretary of State for Economic Development Michele Geraci recently said Japan will continue to be among Italy’s biggest trading partners and that it will play an even more important role in business and investment.

Speaking in an interview prior to the Invest in Italy Roadshow held on Dec. 13 at the Italian Embassy, Geraci noted that with the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement taking effect on Feb. 1 next year, he expects that the flow of goods, people, skills and ideas to be further activated in both directions. “Japan has a high degree of skills that are complementary, not overlapping with ours,” said Geraci.

Measures that Italy is taking to promote investment from foreign countries include tax reduction for greenfield investment and improvement of legal systems for faster processing of various registrations and applications of licenses.

“Japan and Italy can do more together in research and development,” said Geraci. “R&D accounts for only 1.3 percent of Italy’s total gross domestic product, which is too little,” he continued. As a former professor, investment banker and electronic engineer, Geraci emphasized that technical research is the basis of sustainable social and economic development.

He suggested that the best way to enhance R&D in all sectors is to have foreign partners with resources and ideas that are different from the ones Italy already has. “One of the things Italy can offer as a basis for investment is our creativity nurtured in the rich culture and history of the country; that can be a value to investors who look for innovation,” said Geraci.

Geraci explained that getting to know each other deeper is the best way to remove the unnecessary and excessive cautiousness in everything, including business, investment and trade. It takes a lot of courage to invest in a country that you lack understanding of, which is why he is pouring his effort into launching a startup exchange program between Japan and Italy next spring.

Through this program, entrepreneurs of startup companies of both Japan and Italy will switch locations for three to six months. They will spend the period in an incubator where they can exchange ideas and views with other local entrepreneurs, co-develop or co-finance their businesses, or find investors.

“So you can actually get a glimpse of what Italian people can do,” said Geraci. This is the most important step from which people of the two countries can start thinking about how to complement each other as stronger partners. “The current government of Italy is ready to do real, practical things,” said Geraci.

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