Think international, act local

The economic situation in Abruzzo has been profoundly affected, almost shocked, by the spread of Covid-19. As in the rest of Italy, in fact, companies (large, medium and small) in Abruzzo have seen and are still seeing a general drop in turnover.

Despite this, our Region remains one of the most flourishing manufacturing areas in Europe, being able to rely on a high level of productive and industrial specialization. These characteristics have allowed the regional economy to maintain stable levels of growth, demonstrating great resilience and aptitude for change.

The pandemic still ongoing, however, marks a fundamental breakthrough for the entire Italian production system, which is suffering a drastic drop in consumption, especially in strategic sectors for Abruzzo such as automotive and fashion. In addition, the most impacting item in this sense is the drop of Export towards EU countries: in the first quarter of 2020, the Bank of Italy recorded an important reduction that, according to estimates, is going to get worse in the next months.

This does not seem to be the case for other areas of the world, such as China and South-East Asia, in which the pandemic has had a much smaller impact, also thanks to strategies that are much more restrictive than those adopted in Europe. Exports to these areas, in fact, have maintained a stable growth thanks to the considerable demand for quality Made in Italy products. Also thanks to the numerous Free Trade Agreements signed between the European Union and Asian countries such as Vietnam and Singapore, as well as between the countries of the area themselves, trade will become more and more convenient and rapid, and also the safeguards (such as Certificates of Origin) will be ever greater.

This year represents a fundamental moment for the entire world, and in particular for the Chinese economy: in January the new five-year plan will be implemented, a document with which the Beijing government establishes the main economic objectives for the next 5 years, such as growth estimates and investments in strategic sectors. From what has been made public so far, thanks to the enormous growth recorded in recent years and that expected in the coming years, China seems destined to become a land of consumption and no longer of production. This circumstance, together with the excellent diplomatic relations with our country, could represent a new driving force for the economy of Abruzzo and for all entrepreneurs who are willing to adopt an international approach.

This challenge can concern all the major productive sectors of the Abruzzo economy, such as fashion, electronics and agri-food sector, offering an enormous opportunity to restart in such a difficult moment. A new way of thinking in an international sense can represent a revolution in local action. What is certain is that this relaunch will not be determined solely by the individual will of entrepreneurs, who can rely on the numerous tools introduced by the Ministry of Economic Development and its Agencies, as well as the important contribution of local and national institutional players.

At the same time, the aim is to promote the attractiveness of Abruzzo as a possible destination for foreign direct investments from China. To achieve this goal it will be important, among other things, to improve the infrastructure network and connections of the Abruzzo Airport in order to enhance relationships and trade. From this point of view, it will also be useful to strengthen and promote relations and exchanges between the Abruzzo Region and the People's Republic of China, also giving new life to the already existing twinnings - such as the one between the city of Chieti and the city of Yancheng and the one between the Abruzzo Region and the Chinese Province of Shangxi - and promoting new ones.

Edited by: Lawyer Carlo D'Andrea, Vice President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Managing Partner of D'Andrea & Partners Law Firm, with offices also in Shanghai and Pescara.