Boost for business with revamped trade agency ITA

New mission to lift export sector says Monti

Boost for business with revamped trade agency ITA

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, July 16 - Italian business abroad is set for a major boost with a retooled and rebranded trade agency, officials say. "Italy's global trade agency has developed a new logo and a new mission which will help the country's export sector boost its profile," said chief executive Riccardo Monti, unveiling the new name of the Foreign Trade Institute (ICE), the Italian Trading Agency (ITA), to be used in all ICE's dealings abroad. "The new ICE is determined to always promote a modern and integrated service, involving the whole of Italy," said Monti, presenting ITA's new logo, which sports the colours of the Italian tricolour flag, green, white and red, and has stylised lettering reminiscent of the flourishes of Renaissance great Michelangelo. "Our main business must be to help, immediately and concretely, individual Italian companies to land on foreign markets". Monti vowed there would be a "clean break" with the past, when the old ICE was often accused of not doing enough to help Italian firms break into foreign markets. "We will send export managers to help firms and plan their internationalisation," Monti said. "Our new brand recalls the whole of Italy, from the tricolour letters to the pictorial echoes of Michelangelo. "We will be aiming, more and more, to lend our services to the full gamut of businesses in the most effective way possible, to reinforce the team of 'Italy Abroad' while also giving our own overseas employees greater job satisfaction," Monti said. Among the latest initiatives on the ICE website (officially still known domestically as the Italian Trade Promotion Agency), to be launched under the new ITA label, is a scheme to raise the profile of the age-old artisanal gold-working masters of Arezzo in southern Tuscany. "Italian fashion and its ancillary industries continue to be one of the strong points of Italy's industrial and economic systems, but until now the gold treasures of Arezzo have been undervalued," a statement said. "We aim to make sure this high point of Italian artisanal excellence gets the greatest foreign exposure possible". Other sectors set for the new ITA treatment are recycling and environment protection, where an emerging Italian firm called Texa is offering "a cutting-edge disposal tool called the Ecobin"; and a dotcom start-up called UNIKA (a play on the Italian for 'unique'), whose sights are set on no less than "connecting the whole world". Despite enduring its longest recession in over 20 years, Italy posted a trade surplus of 11 billion euros in 2012, the highest since 2003, ITA said Tuesday. Italian exports rose by 3.7% in 2012 thanks to a cheaper euro and a slowdown in product-price increases, while imports into Italy were down by 5.7%. Also boosting the surplus were lower levels of domestic demand and industrial output, ITA said. The rise in exports was led by metallurgy, up 6.4%, food, up 6.7%, jewellery, up 10.9%, pharmaceuticals, up 12.5%, and petroleum derivatives, up 21.8%, it said. Some 87.3% of exports came from northern and central Italy and only 11.4% from the south. The number of exporting firms rose by about 1,000 to 207,920 between 2011 and 2012, most of them 'micro-businesses', ITA said. "These figures augur well for our budding new agency," Monti said. "I think you'll see, ITA will swing this upturn into a sustained boom, creating a new global dawn for Italian industry and commerce".

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