Titled 'Economic Relations Between Italy and the Mediterranean', the SRM 2012 report presented in Naples on Tuesday showed Italy posted trading volume of 57.7 billion euros, ahead of Germany (56.6 billion euros) and France (46.8 billion euros). Italy's north-western regions had a higher trading volume (18.1 billion euros) than its southern regions (12.7 billion euros). The lower number in the south was due to the breakdown of energy trade with Libya in 2011, the report said.
''This report proves that the Mediterranean is and will continue to be highly relevant to our country's economic relations, and to those of our southern regions in particular,'' SRM President Paolo Scudieri explained. ''Of course economic and political uncertainties and difficulties persist, in Europe as in Mediterranean countries.'' Scudieri also pointed out that southern Med consumers are just as savvy and demanding as those elsewhere.
''There are an estimated 400 million consumers in that area, and they want technologically consolidated products, that are the same as those available on markets all over the world: we must remember that globalization makes consumers uniform,'' Scudieri said. ''Companies must think in terms of a product's appeal, and it must be more technologically evolved than traditional ones.'' Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries are now being seen not only as a market, but in terms of economic integration.
However the EU has not been doing enough to speed up that process, according to SRM experts.
''Significant EU financial investments would be needed, but they have been treading too lightly,'' said Banco di Napoli CEO Giuseppe Castagna. ''They should repeat what was done after 1989 to integrate Eastern European countries.'' The 2012 report, explained SRM chief Massimo Deandreis, ''is the beginning of a long-term research project, centering on analyzing the type and presence of Italian businesses in area countries, beginning with Turkey.'' That country, says the 2012 report, is Italy's prime trading partner south of the Mediterranean: 900 Italian companies operate in Turkey, with turnover of more than 16 billion euros and 125,000 employees.