In an exclusive interview now available on the Italian Embassy's Web site, Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata discusses the importance of the "Made in Italy" label and the role of those products in the U.S. economy.
Amb. Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata. Photo courtesy of the Italian Embassy.
U.S. demand for "Made in Italy" products has been affected by our current economic crisis but overall sales of Italian products in this country continue to perform well, Terzi observed. In fact, he noted, many Italian products (and overall style!) are now entrenched in the American consciousness and influencing broader tastes.
Terzi: The crisis has admittedly caused some pain to our exports, partly as a result of the euro's strength against the dollar. Our exports are led in absolute terms by mechanical engineering products, with machine tools and components. We're talking 5 billion dollars/year here. Next comes the agri-food business, at 3 billion dollars, then fashion and design, totalling 5 billion dollars. These sectors have suffered less than others from the crisis, because they've put down strong roots in the American mentality and taste. And we mustn't forget pharmaceutical research and biotechnology: at least 2 billion dollars a year.
According to Terzi, growth opportunities for Made in Italy products continue to abound here in the U.S. And although the term "Made in Italy" still prompts many Americans to think of food, fashion and Ferraris, Terzi instead highlighted many of the Italian companies who've earned defense, transport and infrastructure contracts in this country.
Terzi: The American market isn't saturated, and in many states there's a lot of work to be done for our brands. I'm not just talking about consumer goods here, but capital goods and contracts for major works.
After all, big Italian industrial and manufacturing names have been operating in the United States for years through American companies. They've won market segments in sectors like defence, transport, infrastructure and services. Groups like Finmeccanica, Fincantieri, Mediaset, Italcementi, Bracco, Brembo, Pirelli, Ferretti, Eni and ENEL have a sound U.S. presence, as have many other large and medium-sized companies. The United States are Italy's main market outside Europe, a market that will continue to be of the highest significance in spite of the competition from emerging countries like China and India.
What's next? Reaching younger consumers and marketing products that build on quickly evolving cultural tastes.
Terzi: We need to increasingly link products to consumers' evolving tastes and needs, especially those of younger consumers. Take wine, for example, where products like spumante are performing very well in spite of the crisis and competition: with innovative solutions and aggressive marketing, Italy has won a 12% presence in the sector.
Click here to read Terzi's comments in full.