Italy and Canada: Trading on many levels

| September 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
Italy is the No. 1 destination market for Canadian grain. (Photo: © Tashka | Dreamstime.com)

Italy is the No. 1 destination market for Canadian grain. (Photo: © Tashka | Dreamstime.com)

Italy and Canada are experiencing a truly extraordinary moment in their relationship, one that is rich with great opportunity.
Canada is one of Italy’s closest friends and a priority economic partner. Bilateral relations between the two countries, particularly commercially speaking, offer tremendous potential, confirmed by the figures relative to our trade balance, which is growing exponentially, doubling over the last 10 years, and actually tripling in the last two decades.
In 2014, our country not only confirmed its position as Canada’s eighth supplier of goods, it also became the eighth-ranked destination country for Canadian goods (in 2013, it was 20th.) In the past two years, our bilateral trade numbers have broken records. According to Statistics Canada, in 2013, two-way trade reached $7.8 billion, and in 2014, it rose to $10.6 billion — the highest level since 1992 — with a positive balance for Italy of $2.2 billion.
Those numbers indicate there was not only an increase in Italian exports (+10 percent, for a value of $6.4 billion), confirming a consistent upward trend over the past 10 years, but there was also an extraordinary growth of Canadian exports to Italy (+113.6 percent, for a total of $4.1 billion.)
The growth of Canadian imports is linked primarily to the extraordinary performance of energy products, a sector that exploded in 2014. Italy was the second destination market for Canadian crude, having imported $1.59 billion worth, an increase of 731 percent over 2013 or five percent of the overall volume exported. This confirms the growing interest of Canada in exporting energy resources to my country. Grain plays an important role in Canadian imports as well ($604 million.) Indeed, Canada is the second-largest exporter of grain in the world, and Italy is its No. 1 destination market.
Among the pillars of Italy’s exports are machine tools and machinery in general ($1.6 billion), pharmaceuticals ($544 million) and wines ($533 million). The agri-food sector is traditionally one of the leaders in our exports to Canada, thanks also to a large community of Canadians of Italian origin who remain strongly tied to Italy’s food culture.
Today, Italian products are part of the everyday eating habits of the majority of Canadians, who appreciate their quality and variety. In 2014, Italian agri-food products confirmed their positive growth trend, reaching $1 billion, a 6.6-percent increase over the year before, placing Italy fourth among Canada’s suppliers, immediately following the U.S., Mexico, and China and ahead of France. Just last March in Toronto, Andrea Olivero, Italy’s agricultural and forestry policies minister, and I launched a successful trade mission in the agri-food sector.
It’s all good news, but the future of bilateral trade relations shows even greater potential. The conclusion last September of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe is a point of pride for me because it took place during the Italian presidency of the European Union.
Once implemented, CETA will remove customs duties, end limitations in access to public contracts, open up the services market and offer predictable conditions for investors. The agreement will also facilitate the temporary movement of key company personnel and service-providers, and will provide a framework for mutual recognition of qualifications in regulated professions. CETA will further open the area of public tenders and acquisitions, making it possible for Canadian companies to take advantage of opportunities resulting from infrastructure investments in Italy.
In fact, Italy is currently undertaking structural, economic and institutional reforms to improve its competitiveness, support productivity and create an appropriate business environment. Currently, there are Canadian companies that have made significant investments in Italy, in sectors with elevated technological content (Bombardier, for example). There is, therefore, potential for growth in investments, and we are actively engaged in organizing events geared to attracting financial and industrial investors and promoting the great opportunities Italy has to offer. In this regard, the economic and trade office of the embassy is at the disposal of those seeking information or assistance to explore investment opportunities in Italy.
I would like to conclude by highlighting yet another extremely valuable opportunity to strengthen our trade and investment ties: EXPO 2015. The chosen theme: “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life” has tremendous currency and impact. I invite you all to visit Milan, to enjoy and savour the beauty of Italy’s cities, its landscapes, its rich history and its artistic treasures.

Reach Italian Ambassador Gian Lorenzo Cornado at segreteria.ottawa@esteri.it or by calling (613) 232-2401.

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