Friuli Venezia Giulia’s internationalisation: from import-export to financial performance

08.11.2021 – 13.15 – Exporting companies in Friuli Venezia Giulia account for 45.9% of the region’s total production value, although they represent only 2.7% of the total number of companies in the region.
This is according to the report promoted by the Region through the Sprint Fvg Desk, which analyses the positioning of the territory in terms of internationalisation.
The analysis focuses on three main areas: the first area, which concerns the analysis of international trade flows over the last five years, shows an overall positive situation.
In the case of Friuli Venezia Giulia, exports have increasedcompared to the national average, while market shares have been gained in the international context. The automotive and shipbuilding industries are the sectors where growth has been most striking, with the technology sector also increasing, but to a lesser extent. Increases in exports were recorded in the main sales regions, with the United States, the Netherlands and Poland performing better than other countries.
As regards the performance of exporting companies, the second area on which the report focuses, there was a general improvement in economic and financial performance over the period analysed, above that of the total number of companies in this sector, with results in line with the national average.
The third and final area concerns the forms of financial support for exports and their effectiveness through an impact assessment based on two possible scenarios: In the first case, all exporting companies would use financial instruments to support exports; in the second case, only 10% of them would use the available funds. In the first case, extrapolated over the three-year period 2020-23, the additional increase in exports would be 10.7%; in the second case, 1.6%.

The report continues with an analysis of FDI flows (foreign direct investment, a form of internationalisation of companies that involves the transfer of capital from one country to another). In this regard, at the end of 2018, Friuli Venezia Giulia had a total of 358 domestic multinational companies (with joint ventures or branches abroad) and 893 foreign companies in which they have a stake, with almost 35 thousand employees and a total turnover of 6.8 billion euros. Shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic products, wood and furniture, and rubber and plastic products are the manufacturing sectors most represented abroad; in the tertiary sector, logistics, engineering services and trade stand out.
Among the sectors of greatest interest for foreign investment, the number of linkswith the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans (primary sector and manufacturing) is also above the national average; however, the opposite emerges for Western European countries, whose data are below the Italian average.

In terms of inbound investment, at the end of 2018 there were once again 309 companies, in which foreign multinationalcorporations had a stake, based in the region with 32 thousand employees and a turnover of more than 9.2 billion euros. Among the companies with foreign capital in the manufacturing sector, metal processing and household appliances stand out; in addition, the region’s share in the national total is very high in the wood furnishings sector. As for the tertiary sector, foreign-owned enterprises are strongly represented in trade, accommodation and food services, engineering services and logistics services.
Looking at the main foreign investors, the EU-15 countries (the ‘old’ members) account for more than two-thirds of the total number of employees in invested enterprises. Compared to the national figures, the enterprise complex involving investors from Eastern European countries is even more significant, with 33 enterprises and 714 employeesThe number of invested companies increased exponentially between 2012 and 2018, by 45.8% (from 212 to 309), by 34.4% in the number of employees and by 30.7% in turnover. Specifically, the increase was mainly in the engineering, food and electronics sectors. However, the highest growth rate was recorded in the tertiary sector, accommodation and food services, personal services and trade. In particular, most investments were registered in 2017, with 42 initiatives and around 1,800 employees.

In terms of internationalisation, Friuli Venezia Giulia therefore has potential despite its small size, and it is precisely in this direction that the Sprint FVG Desk managed by Finest is working in synergy with a network of partners (e.g. Simest, Friulia, Chambers of Commerce). A kind of ‘one-stop-shop’, explains Luisa Corbelletto of Finest, ‘a single point of contact for companies to refer them to the internationalisation instruments provided by the national, regional or European system‘. So, in the multitude of tools and actors linked to the business world, the One-Stop-Shop has a unifying function. Each one is a piece of the puzzle that can help businesses.

For the region in particular, the potential – both expressed and unspoken – is articulated in a variety of ways. From regional clusters like woodworking and metalworking, to leading sectors like shipbuilding, to tax policy, benefits and red tape for companies setting up in the region, and logistics. But there is also the region’s location at the crossroads of important transport routes leading from the Balkans to Russia, as well as industrial conditions that are also a driving force abroad (such as Danieli). Finally, an important element, the potential of which has perhaps not yet been fully exploited, is the region’s propensity for basic research. However, the crucial step in this case is the dialogue with companies, i.e. the ability to transform skills into jobs, explains Luisa Corbelletto.
“At theSprint Desk there are many contacts to ensure that the whole research part is linked to the productive part, i.e. that it flows into companies. Trieste in particular and Friuli Venezia Giulia in general are becoming more and more an important research and innovation centres, where the high percentage of graduates and organisations working in this field has become an important driver for the region. But now we need to further strengthen this transfer of knowledge to businesses”.

“These are all strategic assets, she concludes, “but they must not leave out an important and fundamental issue: ‘networking’, also between regional bodies – and even between regions, as in the case of the North-East Internationalisation System, in which Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and soon the Autonomous Province of Trento are involved with joint initiatives to internationalise the production network – in a single direction, namely the promotion and development of local businesses. The Sprint Desk could provide a 360-degree overview of what the institutional market, but also the operational market, has to offer and become a facility that companies recognise as a one-stop shop. A flywheel and a multiplier effect that would allow Friuli Venezia Giulia and its companies to develop and become stronger and more competitive on the international market”.

[Nicole Petrucci]

[m.g]