DOING THE BUSINESS FOR THE AZZURRI

Francesca Camerlengo of the Federation of Italian Business is leading the move to establish greater commercial links between Ireland and Italy.

Francesca Camerlengo of the Federation of Italian Business is leading the move to establish greater commercial links between Ireland and Italy.

While the Irish economy is showing gradual signs of recovery, after 27 successive months of falling unemployment, the same cannot be said for my native Italy at present, where the numbers out of work continue to increase.
The economic storm of 2008, and the cataclysmic Irish bank guarantee, whose consequences shall of course be felt for many years to come, has lost much of its initial ferocity, and the prospect of calmer waters is now welcomingly genuine.
Amidst that difficulty, the Federation of Italian Business (FIBI) was founded in Ireland in 2012 in an attempt to generate new business streams and growth opportunities for Italian firms on these shores.
Economics graduate and FIBI Associate and Social Media Specialist Francesca Camerlengo explained more.
“The FIBI in Ireland was founded just over two years ago following a business call over Skype between the Federation’s founding members: Strive International Consulting Ltd and Flavour of Italy.”
Ms Camerlengo continued: “The reason for its ‘birth’ so to speak was to attempt to fill a gap in the Irish market: prior to its foundation there was an absence of specialised structures in terms of offering support to Italian companies and professionals interested in doing business here.
“In fact, in Ireland, in fact, there isn’t an Italian Chamber of Commerce (ICE), which exists in other countries and while there is an ICE office in London, it is somewhat physically detached from Ireland.
“So because of this, that is why we established a company that can offer the services that other countries already have via the ICE structures listed above. The FIBI is a private limited company without direct links with Italian institutions but we have a good working relationship with the Italian Embassy in Dublin.”
The FIBI has, in a relatively short period of time, established itself as a mediator in trade relations between Italian and Irish businesses and has tapped into the trends and nature of the economic relationship between both EU Member States at notable pace.
According to Francesca Camerlengo: “We have many requests from Italy, especially in the food and beverage industry because domestic consumption in Italy at present is ‘locked’; therefore Italian companies are investing considerably in terms of the export market.
“Irish companies contact us essentially to evaluate projects related to tourism and to create partnerships with Italian producers.”
So where are the growth areas between both countries and how can Ireland benefit from closer ties with Italy?
“To date, certainly in Ireland the leading sectors are those related to new technologies such as ICT, renewable energy, tourism and food and beverages – salmon and Irish beer are typical examples of Irish culture known throughout the world, for example.
“In Italy I am more than convinced that agri-food and tourism are two sectors that, despite of the ongoing domestic economic crisis at home, can act as a driving force for a genuine and sustained recovery in Italy. And of course do not underestimate the fashion, cosmetics and design sectors, areas where Italians have always distinguished themselves in the world and, in so many senses have come to represent the Italian way of life”.
The FIBI is busily co-ordinating promotional activities and the positive exploitation of Italian products in the Irish market.
For example, it actively caters ‘Business To Business’ meetings with importers and local distributors, product sampling sessions, as well as business trips to meet with potential buyers in Ireland.
“We carry out market research in all economic sectors to provide data and trends as well as useful contacts for business development,” said Francesca.
“In Italy, we organise initiatives for prospective or incoming Irish operators in both the agri-food and tourism sectors, offering guided tours so that Irish businesses can learn about our companies and their excellent levels of production. We also organise delegations of Ireland operators to take part in trade fairs throughout Italy.”
To become a member of the Federation, which supports existing and prospective Italian investors in Ireland, an annual membership fee permits for the services provisions, including direct contact with traders within the FIBI network, requests for products and services by importers/operators, the opportunity to participate in promotional events, along with online support and enhanced media visibility via local promotional tools.
Said Ms Camerlengo: “Thanks to the promotional events organized in Dublin by FIBI, many new business relationships and trade agreements between Italian firms and Irish buyers have been created.
“In particular, Italian food products are very much appreciated by the Irish. Not only wine, but also olive oil, sauces, cheeses and meats, along with baked goods.
“There are many companies that have been awarded, thanks to our efforts with orders from buyers in Ireland; in fact, the last trade agreement between a buyer and an Italian pasta factory was signed just last month.”
The FIBI is a welcome innovation which has permitted new Italian/Irish business links and relationships to emerge, promoting products of both counties in either territory, and providing companies in both States with an opportunity to expand and develop.
Such friendships in business can only assist in what one hopes will be a long-term economic recovery in both Ireland and Italy, but throughout the Eurozone.

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