Minister Luigi Di Maio

Digital commerce seems to have saved many companies in these difficult times… “E-commerce proved to be a winning tool during the health crisis, as a channel to maintain or increase the volume of international trade. This is why it is one of the six pillars on which the ‘Pact for Export’ that we signed in June is based on. In the coming years, digital will increasingly be a driving force for export growth. We want to be next to Italian companies, which will have to fully exploit their potential, in order to increase their market share abroad. E-commerce is also a challenge to acquire added value: it is a stimulus to become more actively involved in a new way compared to the past. The inexorable global increase in the propensity to consume through the internet must encourage our exporting companies to rethink their business model in a digital way. Thanks to lower investment costs and the reduced need to resort to local intermediaries, it will be easier for small and medium-sized companies to get in touch with those foreign markets from which they were excluded in the past”.

How do you assess the current Italian economic situation?
“Recent ISTAT export data are comforting, because despite the negative effects of the pandemic, in September we recorded a trend growth in exports of + 2.1% compared to the same month in 2019; + 2.8% towards non-EU markets and + 1.4% towards European ones, despite the contraction in demand from the old continent. These data, together with the circumstantial flattering rise of +30.4% in exports in the third quarter of 2020 confirm that we are working in the right direction. But we will certainly not stop here”.

The agreement with Alibaba is one of the many steps taken in recent months. How did it come about?
“The agreement is the result of intense work that we have carried out to quickly respond to the needs of Italian companies hit hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot say yet that we are out of this hard crisis. For this reason, the work in support of Italian companies is even more important to achieve greater efficiency on the markets, for the benefit of our producers, our distributors and consumers who are looking for the Made in Italy quality worldwide”.

Why did you choose Alibaba?
“Alibaba B2B operates in 190 countries, with 150 million registered users, of which 26 million are buyers. Through this platform 300 thousand requests are processed daily, divided among 170 million products, displayed in almost 6 thousand product categories. The numbers speak for themselves”.                                                                  

What are the features of the agreement?
“This agreement is unique of its kind: the traditional virtual shop windows, targeted at consumers, are joined by an unprecedented component with the objective of putting economic operators in contact with each other. A Made in Italy pavilion (the “Pavilion”) will be created, a unique portal where Italian products will be exhibited separately. We will organise special advertising campaigns, through permanent ‘banners’ and Artificial Intelligence tools, which will improve the effectiveness of the offer.                                                                                            The participating Italian companies will enjoy favourable conditions: in the face of significantly reduced access costs, they will have a ‘premium membership’ for 24 months, with the opening of a virtual ‘store’ dedicated to the individual company.
This facilitated access to ALIBABA will be free for 300 requesting companies that will be selected by ICE on the basis of specific requirements: having their registered office and production facilities in Italy and marketing products that comply with the Made in Italy legislation”.