SA and Italy talk business

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The third edition of the South Africa Italy Summit, hosted by The European House – Ambrosetti was held in Johannesburg on 18th and 19th October.

The Summit brought together over 100 Italian and South African political and business leaders with the aim of strengthening strategic and business collaboration between the two countries and providing close interaction between decision-makers in their respective areas of activity.

“Until just a few years ago internationalisation in production and trade constituted strategic goals only for large-sized companies, but today these items are to be found on the agenda of every CEO”, said Luca Monti, Head of Private and Corporate of the UBI Banca Group – one of the speakers at the Summit. “Over 80 per cent of our lending is concentrated in areas from which over 80 per cent of Italian exports are generated. It is a strategic priority for our Group to provide adequate services to support the expansion abroad of companies operating in these areas”.

There are more than 22 thousand Italian companies with a presence in 160 countries. According to SACE (Italian state export credit insurance company), the value of Italian exports could reach €480 billion in 2019 (€414 billion in 2015). As much as 88.5 per cent of sales on foreign markets originate from central northern regions of Italy. This is a “Made in Italy” brand which now goes well beyond the food, fashion and furniture sectors and consists predominantly of sectors such as construction and machine tools.

This data describes structural changes that have occurred in the Italian economy since the crisis into which domestic demand plunged in 2008, which made going international a necessary condition for the survival of many companies. Further confirmation of just how far this phenomenon has spread is seen in the fact that of the approximately 214 000 exporting companies existing in 2015, over 133 000 had export sales below €75 000. This is proof that even traditional small-sized Italian companies are now operating on foreign markets.

This economic framework constitutes an opportunity for the UBI Banca Group, which is present in the most economically active areas of the country and which over the last three years has broadened its range of products and services for international trade to support every customer segment.

UBI Banca’s integrated platform, UBI World, has been operational since 2014. Designed for both companies already present abroad and those that are considering expanding internationally for the first time, this product range comprises both analysis and operational advisory services as well as specific banking products. It is available through the Group’s foreign centres which are present throughout Italy.

The UBI World platform, which covers the typical structure of international trade processes, brings together the products and services needed at each stage. It starts with an analysis of company structure and an assessment of potential foreign markets and then provides the strategic and operational design of growth plans and a range of services that include cash management, finance for international expansion along with international collection and payment systems.

UBI Banca also promotes direct meetings between firms and potential foreign partners (i) by participating and involving client firms in Italy’s institutional missions abroad, (ii) by using services made available through an agreement with the Italian Trade Agency signed in 2015 and (iii) by organising missions with foreign banks to promote meetings between selected groups of firms.

UBI World supplements the UBI Group’s range of products and services which already included the presence of the bank in Asia, Latin America and a number of European countries through its network of Representative Offices. Over the last 18 months new representative offices have been opened in Dubai, New York and Casablanca. The bank also provides services needed by companies thanks to a firmly established correspondence network of leading banks in numerous countries.