The IICCI organises a three-day exhibition ‘Italian Tech in India: Italian Know-How for India’s Energy Transition and Manufacturing Growth.’
On the sidelines of the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s historic visit to India and herdialogue with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) in New Delhi, the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) organized a three-day tech exhibition titled ‘Italian Tech in India – Italian Know-How for India’s Energy Transition and Manufacturing Growth’ at the Embassy of Italy in India.
In this interview, Claudio Maffioletti, CEO and Secretary General of IICCI, talks about the vision behind the exhibition, the calming influence of the meeting between PM Modi and PM Giorgia on Indo-Italian ties, and IICCI’s future plans to boost the bilateral trade, among other things.
Q. Tell us about the vision behind this event especially, with the G20 ministerial meetings going on.Also, how this brings India and Italy closer?
A. The main idea behind this is to showcase what Italy is doing in India because there are more than 650 Italian companies that have invested in India. There are more than 300 manufacturing plants in the country, 50,000 people employed, €14 billion invested in the past 15years, but somehow there’s a need to bring all of that under one umbrella and to share with our Indian friends what we are doing in various sectors. So we have picked the ones which are most relevant for Italian investments in India, which means automotive and auto components, machinery and manufacturing, which is a big part of Italian investments in India, engineering infrastructure, building and construction materials and the entire agro and food value chain. So from farm mechanization, farm implements to food processing and food packaging, that’s a small selection. It doesn’t encompass the whole thing, but these examples are good ones I believe.
Q. And how did you put all this together? Is it something that you have been planning for a long time or you just wanted it to coincide with the Italian PM’s visit to India?
A. No, it was not planned in such a way. We just wanted to showcase that and it was an idea from the Consul General of Italy in Mumbai and commercial attache here in Delhi, Alessandro De Masi and Francesco Varriale, respectively. They put the idea through to me and basically asked if I thought the Italian companies, members of the Chamber would be interested in doing that. I immediately said ‘yes.’ And this is how it came about. Then the entire thing coincided with this institutional delegation, and so that’s how everything came together. But we would have done it in any case.
Q. So after this exhibition what is the way forward?
A. From the 17th to the 19thMarch, we are moving the show to Pune, becausethe highest concentration of Italian investments is in Pune, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, to some extent and in Chennai. And next year we are taking it to Bengaluru and Tamil Nadu.
Q. Now that the show has coincided with the visit, do you think that the meeting between PM Modi and PM Giorgia is going to give a fillip to your initiative?
A. This is the start of a new era. I am fully convinced about that.After years of difficulties between Italy and India and we had COVID and now it is the right time and you know, there are so manysimilarities which are cultural in a fundamental sense between Italy and India and I believe the potential of growing together is huge.
Q. And are you planning something similar in Italy with the Indian participation?
A. Yes, we are planning it for the next year. We used to have an initiative as part of the IICCI called Namaste India, which was a showcase of what Indian companies were doing. Indian Investments in Italy are not as many, but there are and are quite significant. We want to give visibility to that, but also to the many lifestyle brands, Indian lifestyle brands, car brands that are making an entry in the international markets.
We are a bilateral chamber of commerce. So, we work on both the sides. Obviously, we are established in India. We have our head office in Mumbai and offices in Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai and Bengaluru. We have 750 plus members. 90% of them are either Indian companies importing from Italy or Italian companies that have invested in India. So the part from Italy is marginal in comparison. But there is so much to be done about India in Italy. So the plan is next yearto start doing something.
Q. How do you plan to boost the numbers, both Italy in India and India in Italy?
A. In principle it happens organically because institutions can define the framework and prepare the ground. Obviously the higher is the political focus on one country, the higher is the output in terms of investment between the two countries because you create the conditions for better ecosystem to do business. But then it’s the initiative of the individual companies that is important. But even you might be aware that the trade between Italy and India in the past two years despitethe pandemic has hit new highs. This year we are going to cross 14 billion dollars of bilateral trade.Last year, which was still heavily impacted by Covid, it was 11 billion U.S. dollars and that was a target that was defined in 2010 for 2015 and we reached that in 2021. So it means that something has changed in the world.
Q. Other than automobiles and machinery, what are other the hot areas?
A. Speaking of the Italian companies, the important ones are Italian lifestyle products, furniture design, cosmetics, pharma and medical equipment, among others. The Italian Ambassador Vincenzo de Luca recently wrote an article about how the Italian furniture exports have grown by 25.7%.I believe it’s something that is going to stay there for quite some time. But besides that what we stress on as the IICCI is to try and share how Italians do business. Whatever is done by Italian companies has three elements and three components that are crucial. One is obviously innovation and the new age which is Industry 4.0. There is a very, very specific attention to Circular Economy and Sustainability. Not because it has become compulsory right now but because it’s always been somehow embedded in the way Italians produce. And last but definitely not the least is Corporate Social Responsibility.