"United we stand, divided we fall". Inspired by this good old motto, a group of Italian business associations operating in the Balkans decided to overcome geographical barriers and form a federation to enhance their economic activity in the area.
Being "entrepreneurs abroad" is not always the simplest experience, and sharing feedback, information and know-how can prove to be of the greatest importance for companies familiar with these markets and newcomers.
The founding agreement of Confindustria Balcani – the name of the Federation – was signed in Tirana last April by Massimo Bartocci, chairman of the Committee of Italian Entrepreneurs in Bulgaria (Italian acronym CIIB) and the leaders of four other Italian business associations operating in Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and Croatia.
Confindustria Balcani is going to be fully operational from September 2010 with a rotating Presidency held by Mr. Bartocci for 2010–2013.
By the end of the year other associations are expected to join Confindustria Balcani, spreading its borders to include Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro.
The brand new structure is an initiative led by CIIB and Confindustria Italia, the main organisation representing Italian manufacturing and services companies.
Confindustria Italia and the CIIB have had vigorous and lively relations since they signed in Rome a first collaboration agreement in April 2009.
In March 2010 CIIB became part of Confindustria and entered its group of 142 762 companies of all sizes – employing a total of 5235 029 workers. As a consequence of this process, the change of CIIB’s official name into "Confindustria Bulgaria" is currently in progress.
Confindustria Balcani is another important step toward a steadier and more consistent Italian economic presence in the Balkan Peninsula. It will offer the federated associations and to their member companies strong support in the process of internationalisation and to the local authorities a reliable and representative partner.
"Confindustria Balcani gathers quite different experiences," emphasises Massimo Bartocci. "For instance, Italian economic presence in Bulgaria is mature and consolidated. Our big member companies such as Unicredit Bulbank, Italcementi, Generali, Enel patently show this "special relationship" between Bulgaria and Italy.
Serbia, on the other hand, has lately started to offer not-to-be-missed opportunities and its market is now attracting an increasing number of Italian companies. The implementation of the activities of FIAT’s car factory in Kragujevac was undoubtedly a key driver of this trend.
In other countries – like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo – Confindustria Balcani may attract new Italian companies and underpin groundbreaking patterns of growth."
Federico Landi, Vice Director of Confindustria Italia, delves into the topic of the need of supporting Italian economic initiative abroad: "On the other shore of the Adriatic Sea we found a ‘critical mass’ of Italian entrepreneurs and we decided to offer them our associative strength.
Confindustria Balcani will be an ideal "laboratory": through it we will be able to discover new markets and develop new economic strategies".
In the past decade the Balkans showed it was able to transform itself from an area of instability into one of the most interesting emerging markets in Europe. Confindustria Balcani is the tangible proof that Italy’s business community wants to be an active part of this dynamic environment.