Italy

Italy _flagThis guide is aimed at those who are considering a visit to Italy in order to procure products and conduct business. The guide is by no means comprehensive and whilst the information detailed in this report is correct at the time of writing, we cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies or discrepancies. 

The economy in Italy changed dramatically after World War II. Prior to the war, Italy maintained a stable economy mainly based on agriculture. Post war Italy was left in political and social turmoil, and sadly most of the agriculture was destroyed.

During the 1950’s Italy’s economy began to transform into one of the worlds most industrialised nations. This was kick started when demand for metal and manufactured products stimulated Italian industrial production. This was furthered by the creation of The European Common Market in 1957, with Italy as a founding member. This provided further investments- resulting in a great deal of economic growth. 

Initially Italy struggled to keep up with the modern world and to adapt to globalisation. Surges of global international trade and investment caused the country some great difficulties in maintaining their hard earned economic growth; especially with developing countries cross-trading more than ever before. More recently Asian investors and competitors that dominate international trade are seen as welcome investors. Italy now has the 7th largest economy in the world and the 5th largest by industrial output. 

Italy has a wonderful and famous culture rich in art, food and design and has no shortage of brilliant Italian literary scholars, musicians, architects and high end designers; which is difficult for many countries to compete against. These days’ exports include luxury cars, electrical goods, and clothing which are like no other of their kind. Italian exports are reputable for their reliability, detail, style and unique craftsmanship. Italian food commands around 6% of the global food export market, mostly comprising of Wine, Pasta, Olive Oil, Olives, Cheeses, Meats and other specialty items. Many of these delicious Italian foods are protected by the European Protected Food Names Scheme, which means that similar food products cannot legally use the protected names of such products unless it is processed, prepared and packaged in Italy. Gorgonzola cheese, Parma ham and parmesan are among a massive 223 protected foods. The scheme has a very beneficial effect on Italy’s economy, and allows Italy to be recognised for its innovation, technique and traditional recipes and methods; many importers are very keen to obtain original foods with the cachet of having this protected status. 

When conducting business in Italy, there will be several things to bear in mind. Italians are renowned for their family relationship values, which are strong. Many businesses are family-run, even those on extremely large scales; such as Fiat and Benetton. Italians are great philanthropists; personal qualities, loyalty and good communication will go a long way. Italians feel the need to know you well before and during business. Investing time in building strong and trusting relationships will be well worth the time and effort. Many business meetings will begin with small talk and have an informal atmosphere to begin with. There is a clear emphasis on hierarchy in Italian business and there will always be one strong leader in business meetings.  If you have a point to make, make sure you are heard, and don’t be scared off by outbursts of emotion. In many other countries this type of behaviour may be viewed as unprofessional, however in Italy it is viewed positively and often encouraged. During meetings the character and influence of the speaker can at times be more important than the ideas put forward. 

Visitors from within the EU do not require a visa to visit Italy for work or business, Non EU citizens should check with immigration beforehand( depending on the nature of stay and duration); although 90 days of entry is normally allowed.

Italy is generally a very safe place to travel, taking your European Health Insurance Card, will entitle you to any medical treatment if necessary. With this card you will pay the same amount for care or treatment as an Italian national would.

There is a perceptible divide between the way of life in Northern and Southern Italy, and this is apparent during business too. The North of Italy is home to the ‘Industrial triangle’ which is located towards the West, and is the richest region is Italy. People working in this area are likely to work for large corporate companies and firms, be well-educated and highly skilled. Business will be more formal, efficient and serious. Southern Italy is much less industrialised and business here is much more agriculturally based. Southern Italy is not as well connected to the rest of Italy and Europe as the North, as the transport links are poor. The people here tend to be more relaxed and enjoy a slower pace of life, and a slightly easier approach to work.  

Official Season Clarification

Winter: November - March
Spring: March - June
Summer: June - September
Autumn: September - November

Key facts:

  • Capital: Rome
  • Population: 60 Million
  • Area: 30,245 Sq. Km
  • Currency: Euro
  • International dialling code: (+) 39
  • Official language: Italian
  • Main Exports: Machinery & Transport, equipment, Chemicals, food, drink, tobacco and mineral fuels.
  • Ports: Ancona, Augusta, Bari, Brindisi, Cagliari, Genoa, Ravenna, Trieste
  • Time Difference: GMT/UTC + 01:00 hour

Top Tips:

  • Outside of the main tourist and business centres, Credit cards are not widely accepted. You can’t pay anything that is less than 10 Euros with a credit card.
  • Make use of the public transport in the North, it is reliable, inexpensive and an easy way to get around; giving you chance to see more whilst on the business trip. 
  • Shake hands with everyone when arriving and leaving.
  • Don't use first names unless invited to.
  • Plan appointments between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.
  • Business dinners involve only a small, important group. If you are the host, consult with your Italian contact for help in deciding whom to invite.
  • Use business cards written in English and Italian; including name, address, occupation, position, email, fax, phone number and qualifications. 
  • Italians are renowned for dressing well and first impressions are based on presentation.
  • Ensure everything you say is understood, when communicating with people who are speaking a second language, do not over-estimate their linguistic abilities.

Important Note: The information detailed within the contents of this website is to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. We reserve the right to amend any information where we see fit.

This website may include links to third party sites and sources with which we have no involvement in regards the content.

Italy

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