Business Opportunities for Italian Companies in Australia

Segmento farewells Trade Commissioner Paola De Faveri, whose 4-year posting at the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in Sydney comes to an end this November. We talked to her about ITA and the importance of Made in Italy brand.

The Italian Trade Agency is the governmental agency that promotes Made in Italy throughout the world, supporting the growth of Italian companies, and contributing to the attraction of foreign investments to Italy. The origin of the ITA goes back to the mid-1920s with the establishment of Istituto Nazionale per le Esportazioni, which then became Istituto nazionale per il Commercio Estero (ICE). Today, ITA is called Agenzia ICE, but despite the difference in name, ICE and ITA are one and the same - with ITA being the name by which Agenzia ICE is known outside of Italy.

Paola De Faveri

Agenzia ICE has headquarters in Rome and Milan and about 80 offices around the world, supporting Italian companies wishing to enter foreign markets. But, as Paola De Faveri explains, these offices also promote and safeguard the quality and distinctive characteristics of Made in Italy products: 

ITA's promotion of the Made in Italy brand is via concerted media campaigns, participation in major exhibitions and trade fairs, and the coordination of training classes, seminars, and demonstrations. These activities are carried out in close collaboration with Italian diplomatic offices all around the world and with the various actors of what we call Sistema Italia, with includes the Italian cultural institutes, ENIT (Italian Tourism Governmental Office), and the chambers of commerce.

ITA office in Sydney oversees all industry sectors, with jurisdiction over Australia and New Zealand.

When promoting the Made in Italy brand for Italy's agri-food export, an important topic is to safeguard the geographical indications of origin (GIs). 

In Europe, geographical indications are meant to safeguard the authenticity and quality standards of food products. Italy ranks high among European countries with the largest number of agri-food products with protected designations of origin recognized by the European Union: more than 300 agri-food products and more than 500 wines. 

Unfortunately, GIs are not protected by the Australian regulatory system to the same extent as they are in Europe. A consequence of the insufficient protection is the spread of the phenomenon of Italian-sounding products, often coming with misleading information: when local products evoke the names, colors, and symbols of Italy, it causes damage to many Italian companies by forcing them to face unfair competition.

The protection of geographical indications is of interest to all European countries exporting to Australia and therefore this is an important subject of the negotiations conducted by the EU Delegation and aimed at signing a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union.  

ITA delegation at Fine Food

Another important matter are the strict phytosanitary Australian procedures, which become a barrier to market entry for some typical products of Italian agri-food exports. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment defines and administers biosecurity conditions for the importation of certain categories of products, including animal-derived products.

Recent initiatives by ITA to communicate the unique characteristics of authentic Italian products include the Prosciutto di Parma Promotional Campaign and the Italian Cheese Promotion Project: 

Both of these initiatives involve chefs, media, and food bloggers in communication campaigns, and included trade fair and in-store demonstrations, all with the common goal of spreading correct information about the traditional characteristics, quality, and uniqueness of Italian products with respect to their marks of origin - in other words, the excellence of the Made in Italy brand.

A major upcoming event for the food sector is Fine Food Australia, which this year will take place in Melbourne between 5 and 8 September. We participate every year with an Italian Pavilion, this time including 16 Italian companies and a consortium.

Italian Pavilion at Fine Food

De Faveri believes Australia represents a wealth of opportunity for Italian businesses, not only in the agri-food industry:

Italian companies show a growing interest in the Australian market.

Some of them are already present and operational in Australia, especially in some key sectors as infrastructure and energy. Further bilateral cooperation opportunities need to be pursued in sectors with high added value, as our companies can provide state-of-the-art technologies and consolidated know-how. This is the case, for example, of the space sector and renewable energy. In fact, the strength of our country is above all in its manufacturing industry, including innovative, emerging, and high technology. 

Simona Bernardini will take on the role of trade commissioner when Paola De Faveri departs in November.