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Webinar on post-Brexit trade for Italian SMEs



Webinar on post-Brexit trade for Italian SMEs

An initiative for Italian SMEs that trade with the UK, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Italy in London, in partnership with Confartiganato, the Italian Trade Agency and the Monopoli Customs Agency.

A webinar was held on 4 February entitled “Brexit… and now? What is changing for SMEs”. It is one of the the numerous joint initiatives run by Italian institutions to support the internationalisation of Italian businesses, and was organised by Confartigianato, a national organisation representing small businesses, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in London, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Italian Trade Agency and the Monopoli Customs Agency.

The webinar gave an overview of the new trade context following the EU-UK agreement, which will affect Italian SMEs operating in the UK. There were presentations by representatives of Confartigianato, the Italian Trade Agency and the Monopoli Customs Agency, followed by a Q&A session.

After an opening address by Vincenzo Mamoli, secretary general of Confartigianato, there were addresses by Lorenzo Angeloni, the director general for promotion of Italy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Raffaele Trombetta.

They noted that although the agreement between the EU and the UK avoided a no-deal situation, businesses on both sides of the Channel will have to comply with new export regulations and procedures and that a number of issues have emerged that have an impact on trade and that will have to be carefully monitored. They highlighted that Italian institutions in both Italy and the UK can assist SMEs.

Marcello Minenna, director general of the Monopoli Customs Agency, described the measures put in place to facilitate customs controls for goods and products traded with the UK, such as the “zero-kilometre customs” model, implemented directly at warehouses or the premises of businesses.

Roberto Luongo, director general of the Italian Trade Agency, gave information on the dual impact of the pandemic and Brexit on trade flows between the two countries. He also discussed the opportunity that the UK Industrial Strategy creates for Italian exports in certain innovative sectors, such as high-tech machinery, robotics, automotive parts and the export of goods for innovation in the health and environmental sectors.

Ambassador Trombetta noted that the EU-UK agreement avoided the risk of duties and tariffs, but that it did not replicate the conditions of the single market and customs union. He gave an overview of the actions taken by the embassy, the Italian Trade Agency and other Italian institutions to support SMEs during this complicated period: constant monitoring of the situation in order to be able to intervene promptly when necessary; an information campaign covering the evolving situation, such as a series of practical videos entitled “Brexit e imprese… cosa cambia” (“Brexit and businesses… what is changing”) on a range of issues of interest to those operating in the sector; the ITA’s Brexit desk; and a programme of online tutorials for SMEs on e-commerce, digital marketing and the optimisation of the use of social media for commercial purposes.

As for Italy’s trading future with the UK, Ambassador Trombetta noted that Italian operators have excelled for many years on the British market, particularly in certain sectors, such as the manufacture of components, mechanics, agri-food, design, fashion and luxury goods, and that the challenge will now be to focus more than ever on quality in order to secure a competitive advantage. He also indicated the emerging sectors of the green economy, energy redevelopment, research and technological innovation as areas that offer opportunities for Italian SMEs and for boosting trade relations.

He concluded by saying that the Italy’s co-presidency of the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November this year and the UK’s and Italy’s presidencies of the G7 and G20 respectively offer further opportunities for favourable economic and commercial developments and for prospects for collaboration between the two countries.


- Italian Economic Diplomacy