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Belt and Road, successful businesses in the way ahead

After a first two editions held in Venice and Shenzhen, The European House – Ambrosetti and China Development Institute organize the third edition of a high-level gathering of business, political, and thought leaders from all over Eurasia to discuss the business opportunities offered by the Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road Summit: Successful businesses in the way ahead will focus not on the much-hyped infrastructure investments staged by China, but first and foremost on the strategic industrial and commercial opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative and relevant countries offer. For the third edition, thanks to the Support of the Trieste port authority, the Belt and Road Summit moved to Trieste, a crossroad of culture and a historical bridge between Southern Europe, Central Europe and the East. The Summit will keep on building a community of decision makers and facilitate partnerships between Italian, Chinese, and companies from countries located along the Belt and Road. After discussing in the first two editions what it is and how to translate the Belt and Road into action, the third edition aims at gathering the protagonists and let the businesses accelerate engagement across Eurasia.

The Summit takes place when the global economy is facing great uncertainty and challenges created by trade protectionism, thereby affecting the development of international economic and trade relations. In this context, the Belt and Road Initiative provides an opportunity to increase multilateral economic cooperation across Eurasia. Despite the international hype, many operators find it uncertain to identify which opportunities the Chinese Belt and Road initiative provide to businesses. In this sense, the Belt and Road is becoming an exponentially complex system, encompassing a multitude of actors, projects, and business sectors: a rapidly shifting geo-economic setting where knowledge is truly power.

The Belt and Road Summit aims to establish a platform for Eurasian countries along the Belt and Road to enhance exchanges and dialogue in political, business and media sectors, strengthen communication, avert risks, establish sound cooperation, and form policy recommendations for Governments across Eurasia. Access to the Summit is by invitation only, gathering around 150 preeminent Asian and Italian business leaders, representing 10 countries along the Belt and Road, in a one-day high-level Summit on practical issues The major outcome for the participants is to get: knowledge, personal feeling, and trust among fellow business leaders from Eurasia to facilitate partnership and triangulations between European, Chinese and third Countries’ enterprises.

The Belt and Road Summit: Successful businesses in the way ahead has been possible thanks to the contribution of some leading companies as partners: the Port Network Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, (Main partner), Moroccan Investment and Export Development Agency (Main Partner), Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli Partners (Partner), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Partner), SACE (partner), Business Strategies (Partner), and DBA Group (Partner). The project enjoys the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The study “The 21st century maritime silk road. Investments, Trade and GVCs: The Role of Italy” realized by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Associazione Italia Asean and The European House - Ambrosetti has been presented during the Summit. It aims at analyzing the economies involved in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (ASEAN, Indian Subcontinent, Arabian Peninsula and Persic Gulf, Eastern Africa and Eastern Mediterranean) and their economic relations with Italy, in terms of trade, investment and participation in global value chains. These regions generate a cumulated GDP of USD 9.8 trillion (12% of global GDP) and host 3.0 billion of inhabitants (39% of world population). Moreover, these regions will be the destination of more than 600 projects of the MSR initiative, that worth around USD 1 trillion.

These countries represent important trading partners for Italy, accounting for 9% of Italian exports (USD 49 billion) and around 10% of Italian imports (USD 48.9 billion). Italy has directed almost USD 56 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to MSR countries in the last 15 years. However, there is still room for improvement since Italy invests USD 240 billion less compared to United Kingdom in these regions.

The Summit will follow a one-day intensive discussion program, which will focus first on the geo-economics of the Belt and Road, we will then talk about connectivity and infrastructure and then we will look into the industrial opportunities offered the by the Initiative. Then, we will close the day of discussion looking at the way ahead, formulating a concrete action plan to simplify the complexity of the Belt and Road Initiative and allow businesses to thrive.

The Summit will be attended by leaders from all the countries:

 Silvana Ballotta (CEO, Business Strategies)

 Giovanni Carlo Cancelleri (Deputy Minister of Infrastructures and Transport, Italy)

 Paolo Costa (President, Spea Engineering; former Ministry of Public Works and Mayor of Venice)

 Zeno D’Agostino (Chairman, Trieste Port Authority)

 Fan Gang (President, China Development Institute)

 Massimiliano Fedriga (Governor, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region)

 Douglas Foo (President, Singapore Manufacturing Federation)

 Francesco Gianni (Founding Partner, GOP)

 Li Junhua (Ambassador of China to Italy)

 Ali Mehrez (Director, Moroccan Investment and Export Development Agency)

 Enzo Quattrociocche (Secretary General, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development)

 Beniamino Quintieri (Chairman, SACE)

 Qu Baozhi (Deputy Director, Institute of Science, Technology & Innovation, China Merchants Group)

 Sodyq S. Safoev (First Deputy Chairman of the Senate; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uzbekistan)

 Giovanni Tria (former Minister for Economy and Finance, Italy)

 U Thaung Tun (Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, Myanmar)

“The Belt and Road Initiative offers effectively the greatest opportunities that can be seized - by European enterprises - with trade and investment in countries located along the Belt and Road, Central and South Asia in particular, which are now undergoing a process of rapid industrialization. It is not - as usually framed - a simple China-driven infrastructure-focused project. In reality, companies able to create transnational partnerships with Chinese and local operators in those countries will likely enjoy the most successful businesses in the way ahead”, says Paolo Borzatta, Senior Partner, The European House – Ambrosetti.

“Morocco is becoming a platform for a win-win partnership between Morocco, China, and other African countries. Thanks to the kingdom’s successful model, Morocco could stand as a strategic gateway for trade and investment between Africa and China”, Ali Mehrez, Director at AMDIE - Moroccan Investment & Export Development Agency.

"In addition to being an opportunity to be seized, for Italian wine, the Belt and Road," says Silvana Ballotta, CEO of Business Strategies, "represents the opportunity to contribute -- with a vision for the future and concrete requests -- to the construction of the largest and most complex system of structural, cultural, political and economic relations in emerging markets." The Belt and Road Initiative is usually framed as a China-driven and infrastructure-focused design. However, the greatest opportunities can be seized in countries located along the Belt and Road, Central and South Asia in particular, which are now undergoing a process of rapid industrialization. Companies able to create transnational partnerships with Chinese and local operators in this countries will be the most successful businesses in the way ahead.

Gianfranco Di Vaio, Head of Research at Cassa Depositi e Prestiti: “The Maritime Silk Road, and the other connectivity initiatives in the same region, may offer huge business and investment opportunities for Italy. The countries along the route are expected to grow significantly over the next years and there are more than 600 investment projects worth around USD 1 trillion in a wide range of sectors. Countries in the region represent important trading partners for Italy, accounting for around 9% and 10% of Italian exports and imports respectively. In the last 15 years they have attracted USD 56 billion of Italian investments in greenfield and brownfield projects. Italy’s GVC-related trade equals 4% of Italian exports to these countries and more than 3k Italian companies are present along the route. However there is still room for improvement with respect to other advanced economies and Italy needs to increase its positioning to take advantage of the chances offered by the BRI and by other major Euro-Asian connectivity initiatives, through profitable, fiscally sound, financially sustainable and mutually beneficial projects”.

"I am pleased to be a part of this Forum, a unique platform for discussion around the perspectives and opportunities connected with the Belt & Road Initiative," declared Beniamino Quintieri, Chairman of SACE which, together with SIMEST, represents the export and internationalization pole of the CDP Group. "It is a major project of growth, not only infrastructural, but also industrial and commercial, which must be understood and approached proactively, being aware of its complexity, but also of the opportunities it can offer a country such as Italy for which exports are the primary driver for growth. Thanks to an entrepreneurial fabric of a very high level and a very advanced export support system, we have everything required to take off along the new Silk Road developed by China which, it must be remembered, is the no. 1 import power on a global level."

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