In 2021 Italy confirms its positive trend as a destination for investment initiatives by foreign companies, with the realization of 207 foreign direct investment projects (FDI). This result marks an annual growth of 83%, higher than that recorded in all other European countries. However, with a market share of 3.5% – up from 2% in 2020 – Italy still ranks far from the main FDI attractors in Europe, namely France (21%), United Kingdom (17% ) and Germany (14%). This is what emerges from the EY Europe Attractiveness Survey 2022, an annual research that analyzes the trend of foreign direct investments in Europe and the perceptions of international players with the aim of investigating the level of attractiveness of each country and identifying the main drivers of future investment. The software and IT services sector (with 15% of total FDI for the year), transport and logistics (14%) and B2B services (12%) attracted the majority of foreign investments in Italy in 2021. Above all, investments in the agri-food and consumer goods sector (+ 214% of the number of FDI) and machinery and equipment (+ 233%) increased compared to 2020. The attractiveness of the electronics sector is decreasing (-25% of the number of FDI compared to 2020) and telecommunications (-57% of the number of FDI compared to 2020). The trend of the previous year is also confirmed in 2021, which sees investments in Italy mainly arrive from the United States (28% of the annual total), followed by Germany (17%), whose relationship with our country is strengthened by overtaking France. (12%) and the United Kingdom (7%), also historic trading partners of Italy. On the other hand, there is a 50% decline in investments from China compared to 2020. As regards the distribution of resources on the national territory, substantial inhomogeneity is confirmed, with a prevalent share in the North-West of the country (54%) and in the North-East (21%), which in 2021 exceeds Central Italy, from 24% of projects in 2020 to 15% in the last year. The growth in investments destined for the South was positive (from 4% to 10%), despite the fact that there is still a significant gap compared to the rest of the country. Although recording a significant growth in international investments, Italy continues to present significant criticalities that limit its attractiveness. The main obstacle, detected by 69% of the interviewees, is the regulatory uncertainty (+ 11% compared to 2020), followed for 65% of the sample by an excessive risk of litigation for companies (+ 23% compared to 2020) and from an excessive bureaucratic burden for the business, felt by 56% of the same (in line with what recorded in 2020). Among the wishes reported by managers who invest in Italy, the priority of cutting the tax wedge (70%) emerges; followed by the reduction in labor costs (32%), incentives for innovation (22%), aid to sectors in difficulty (21%) and support for SMEs (20%). “Italy climbs positions in terms of attracting foreign investments, positioning itself in 2021, for the first time in a long time, among the top 10 European countries for the number of FDI projects. After the increase in investments recorded in the difficult year of the pandemic, 2021 confirms the growth trend, with a positive signal of confidence in the prospects of strengthening the Italian economy, also linked to the multi-year reform plan pursued by the Draghi government starting from February 2021. Compared to the size and importance of the national economy, the portion of foreign direct investments destined for our country can still grow considerably. It will be essential to continue to intervene on some system obstacles linked mostly to regulatory uncertainty and to the ability of justice to settle disputes within a reasonable time. We are on the right track, as the data indicate, but it is essential that the government, companies and people continue to work in synergy to maintain the country’s trust and credibility, also thanks to PNRR funds “, comments Massimo Antonelli, CEO of EY Italy and Chief Operating Officer EY Europe West. “In the medium term, investors, while aware of the complexities arising from recent geopolitical tensions, assess Europe’s ability to continue attracting investments as improving. And about 60% of the interviewees confirm the same judgment also for our country. More specifically, the investors contacted place Italy in fourth place among the European countries that will be able to attract growing shares of foreign investments starting from 2022 and in the coming years. Among the sectors that will allow Italy to attract new investments in the future, the digital economy (41%), energy and ecological transition (40%), retail and agrifood (31%) stand out. They also highlighted that approximately 50% of future investment projects will concern the reorganization of the supply chain and logistics, production processes, research and development. Moreover, the analysis of the projects completed in 2021 highlighted how a significant portion was guided by the recognition of the technical know-how and quality of the human capital present in our country. We must continue to focus on these assets to enhance national excellence in areas with greater added value “, comments Marco Daviddi, Strategy Transactions Markets Leader Europe West and Strategy Transactions Leader Italy of EY. For further information: https://www.ey.com / en_it / attractiveness / 22 / foreign-investors-aim-for-italy1.
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