More competitive SMEs: Italian SMEs test exports between sustainable and digital transformation.
On the occasion of the 49th edition of the magazine cernobbio forum, Sassy Opens the doors of Villa d’Este to SMEs for the first time, thanks to the partnership with European House – Ambrosettiwith Axes It is entirely dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises and their strategic role in the Italian economic fabric.
during the forum Alessandra Ricci, CEO, SACEtogether with Alexander Terzuli, Chief Economist at SACEAnd Lorenzo Tavazzi, Partner and Head of Area Scenarios, Intelligence and International Development of the European House – Ambrosetti, Submit your search “SMEs more competitive: Italian SMEs test exports between sustainable and digital transformation” Established by the SACE Research Office in collaboration with the European House – Ambrosetti, focusing on the prospects for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in the face of the challenges of international markets. The study represents an in-depth analysis that promotes small and medium-sized enterprises and fits perfectly with this year’s forum theme: Today and Tomorrow’s Scenario of Competitive Strategies.
“SACE participates in the Cernobbio Forum with Italian SMEs, giving them the opportunity to follow the three working days, meetings and discussions virtually, and above all to draw the attention of this official context to the importance and prospects of SMEs. Italian companies grapple with the challenges and opportunities of sustainable and digital transformationhe declared Alessandra Ricci, CEO, SACE. “We are at SACE, in line with our mission and goals Action Together Plan 2025We are already together with 40,000 Italian SMEs in their investment projects and sustainable growth in Italy and around the world and we expect to reach 65,000 over the course of the plan.“.
The importance of small and medium enterprises in the Italian productive fabric and Italian exports
Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the Italian economy It plays a very important economic and social role: More than 200,000 Italian small and medium-sized companies generate sales of more than 1,000 billion euros, generate nearly 40% of the national added value and employ 5.4 million people, equivalent to a third of all employees.. SMEs are strongly connected to each other and develop forms of open innovation and collaboration with their ecosystem in order to access strategic resources (such as knowledge, technology, finance or skills) for their growth. A network that makes resilience and sustainability key to its development.
At the heart of global value chains and many industrial zones, an essential element in the dissemination and affirmation of Made in Italy in the world, with the role of “social link” and key player in the processes of transformation towards a more sustainable and digital society. The interconnected Italian SMEs have always made a significant contribution to Economic, technological and social development of the country. Despite some signs of interest during the first quarter of 2023, Italian SMEs can count on the financial structure that has strengthened in recent years and on relatively low debt levels, allowing them to mitigate, at least in part, their exposure to negative impacts. Effects associated with the deterioration of credit conditions.
“The research “Small and Most Competitive: Italian SMEs Testing Exports Between Sustainable and Digital Transformation” demonstrates SACE’s commitment to SMEs – and the entire production system – in order to increase knowledge and awareness of the tools needed for companies to achieve sustainable and innovative growth.announced Alexander Terzuli. “The aim of the study is to emphasize, given its importance, the characteristics that characterize more than 200,000 Italian SMEs, in order to enhance their qualities and help them seize development opportunities on the national and international scene, also in light of the dual challenge of sustainable and digital transformation.“.
The dynamism of the productive fabric of SMEs, witnessed by the strong increase in labor productivity recorded in the decade 2010-2019 which reached levels higher than those in Germany and Spain, was also reflected in the improvement of competitiveness in international markets. Italian SMEs exported in 2021 (latest available data) €219 billion, equivalent to about half of all exports, with an average annual growth of 2.7% between 2017 and 2021, representing a full recovery after the pandemic.
Currently, Italian SMEs generate about a third of their turnover abroad (8 percentage points higher than German ones) and contribute 48% of national exports, compared to about 20% for German and French firms and 34% for Spanish firms. A trend that is also reinforced in terms of perspective: according to forecasts made by the SACE Research Office, le Italian SME exports are expected to grow by 6.2% this year, by 4% in 2024 and by an average of 3.2% in the following two years (2025-2026), exceeding €300 billion.
With reference to the target markets, the East will lead the export growth of Italian SMEs this year: the Middle East and East and Central Asia are the regions expected to see the largest increases (+10.1%, +9.2%, +8.4% respectively). %), against lower rates for Europe (+5.5%) and North America (+6.6%) which however remain the main outlet areas. In 2024, greater dynamism will be seen in sub-Saharan Africa (+5.6%), Central and South America (+5.4%), and North America (+5.1%).
Sustainable and digital dual transformation reinforces to grow
Sustainable transformation and the digital revolution These are the two phenomena that characterize commercial activity in an increasingly visible and tangible way. In 2022, more than 60% of medium-sized manufacturing firms (and about 40% of small firms) have in fact taken “sustainability action”, showing a growing interest in these issues. The so-called “double go” increases the export propensity of SMEs: the number of companies in which they invest greens And digital export is 20 percentage points higher than companies that export without making any transformation. Embrace the double shift greens Digitalization leads SMEs to be more agile, forward-looking and aware, but above all more productive and competitive. Not only at the national level but also at the international level.
To encourage this process, SMEs need support in all aspects that they find most important, such as cultural barriers in the case of the digital revolution or economic barriers in the context of transformation. greens. Meanwhile, you should focus on training Dedicated And on support in terms of understanding and adhering to regulations and administrative organization also with the aim of reaching foreign markets, especially those that are remote and less populated. It should be emphasized that, in the logic of increasing efficiency and benefiting from the supply chain approach, focusing on supporting medium and large enterprises would also bring benefits to small enterprises, generating their operational enhancement and generally enhancing their competitiveness in the market. domestic and foreign markets.
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