By Žikica Milošević
There is a big misconception about the Italian economy which says that this is one of the more easy-going economies. But this is so far from the truth! Italy is everything but… The country is the biggest industrial manufacturer in the EU after Germany, and the third biggest economy in the eurozone.
Exactly that! If we are talking about the Italian economy, we are talking about an economic giant. Italy is not only the third biggest economy in the eurozone (after the UK left the EU, Italy moved one place up), but it is also a G-7 country, and has the 8th biggest economy in the world in terms of the nominal GDP, and the 12th biggest in regard to the purchasing power parity (PPP). Although, they are not immune from problems, both Italian economy and democracy (known for frequent but legitimate changes of government and parties in power), have become one of the driving forces of the democratic West after the World War II.
IDEAL POSITION, IDEAL MENTALITY
As far as the European Union and its relations with Italy go and despite the criticism of the EU as of late, the fact remains that Italy is the Union’s founder. Today, when “The European Coal and Steel Community” has surpassed its title, Italy mostly trades with other EU countries, with 59% of its external trading carried out with other EU states. We should also mention the fact that Italy trades with the US too (6.8%) to a large extent, and with its neighbour Switzerland. Its excellent geo-strategic position in the heart of Europe and the Mediterranean makes the country equally open towards the Eastern European countries which are not EU members (and especially the Western Balkans). Furthermore, Italy is one of the main investors in the Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. Maybe it is their mentality, but Italians know very well how to treat different nations and cultures they do business with, without prejudice. However, if your country was once the omnipotent, multi-ethnic Roman Empire, and then home to the merchant superpowers like the Venitian Republic or Genoa, which had expanded horizons and traded primarily with the Eastern Mediterranean countries, being open to different nations comes as no surprise.
The Italian economic miracle started immediately after the unification of Italy in the late 19th century, and continued into the 20th century. But after the World War II ended, Italy became different. It transformed from an agricultural country into one of the most industrialized nations in the world, and one of the world export leaders. All of this led to the reversal of the migration tide so Italy, which used to be one of the biggest “exporters of people” (55% of Uruguayans, 40% of Argentines and 30% of Brazilians are native Italians) became a country to emigrate to. According to the Human Development Index, Italy has a very high living standard, and it ranks 8th in the quality of life, if we are to believe The Economist. And we have no reason not to… They are also a frugal nation since the country’s gold reserves are the third biggest in the world. If you have reduced Italy to well-tailored suits, flirting and pizza, you couldn’t be more wrong. Just drive one one of the Italian motorways, and you’ll notice endless industrial zones engulfing every single town. Italy is the bigest wine producer in the world, it is known for its innovative design and technology, and is the leader in the home appliances and shipbuilding industries. Italy also loves luxury – it is the third biggest luxury goods producer in the world.
Unfortunately, the 2008 global economic crisis did not spare Italy either, and the country has been fighting to keep its place under the sun. Although certain regions in Italy (like Mezzogiorno) are below the EU average, while others, mainly those in the north, are visibly above it, Italy, with its endless stream of innovative ideas, will always have a way out of unfortunate situations. Creativy and work – that’s the Italian recipe, and not only creativity, as we, in this part of the world, believe is the recipe for success.