An increasingly widespread process among Italian businesses, mainly among manufacturing companies. However, there is little push abroad among companies that provide services.

According to the "History of the Internationalization of Italy from Unification to Today" published by Istat, which traces the internationalization process of the Italian economy through export data, the journey of Italian companies towards foreign markets has been long, complex and marked by several setbacks. These setbacks often coincided with significant historical events of great impact, such as the Great Depression of 1929, the two World Wars, and, more recently, the 2008-2014 crisis and the pandemic.

Let's start with some general guidelines: at the dawn of Italian unification, the economies were predominantly agricultural, so what was exported in the 1860s were mostly agricultural products (such as silk).

It took decades for the first sectors that drove development to emerge, and these sectors are still significant in the context of the national GDP and the import/export balance: clothing, the chemical sector, and the automotive market.

From the late 1800s to 1913, Italian exports grew at an average annual rate of 4%, with a gradual increase in Germany's role as a trading partner, as well as the development of transatlantic trade. This trend increased to 6.4% after World War I but came to a halt from 1929 until the end of World War II.

Post-war Italy resumed with the already established manufacturing sectors such as textiles, clothing, and automobiles.

Companies such as Fiat, Pirelli and Benetton were among the first to massively expand their operations beyond national borders, followed by the majority of companies during the boom of the 1960s and 1970s.
This period witnessed the emergence of new important sectors such as engineering, electronics, the food industry, automotive components, industrial machinery production, electrical appliances and telecommunications equipment, and the development of precision mechanics.
During the same period, the footwear sector, plastics production, and pharmaceuticals within the chemical industry also gained prominence, alongside a consolidated role in the transformation sector within the oil industry.

In the 1980s and 1990s, driven by the first phase of globalization, companies like Ferrero in the food sector, Luxottica in the eyewear sector and Giorgio Armani in fashion rose to international prominence. The latter became symbols of a shift in the clothing industry towards luxury production.

Following the period from 2000 to 2020, largely impacted by the so-called Great Recession (2008-2014), which halted the internationalization process, emerging sectors such as new technologies, sustainable energies, and design are now leading a new wave of international expansion.

In the three-year period 2017-2019, the value of exports of goods and services in Italy amounted to more than 30% of Gross Domestic Product, positioning Italy as the second-largest exporter of goods in Europe after Germany.
However, in terms of service exports, Italy ranks among the least internationalized within the European Union nations.     
After the pandemic, the situation has remained largely unchanged, with machinery, metalworking, basic chemicals, rubber and plastics sectors, along with non-metallic mineral products (glass, construction materials, tiles) driving national exports, along with furniture and high-end home décor.

On the other hand, the agri-food sector has lost prominence, as has the refining sector due to fluctuating energy prices.
Looking at how Italian companies are positioned abroad, according to the latest "Internationalization Survey Report 2023" by Confindustria Lombardia and Assolombarda, many are engaged in exports (96%), but fewer have direct presence overseas (only 9% have their own subsidiaries and just 7% have production facilities abroad).

At the level of covered markets, European markets continue to be favored, with France (53%) and Germany (52%) among the top five in order of importance, followed by Spain (33%).
Also among the top ten are logistical hubs such as the Netherlands and Belgium, indicating strengthened connections between businesses and Europe and the rest of the world.
Companies that opt for a direct presence abroad through commercial subsidiaries prefer to open them in the United States, Germany and France, while production companies are primarily located in China, the United States and Germany.

However, a new trend of exploring geographically more distant markets is emerging, not only for the near future (with India, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil leading the way), but also in a longer-term perspective, with Australia and Canada at the forefront.

The analysis revealed a tendency for companies to geographically concentrate their exports, with a share of revenue generated abroad produced in the main destination market amounting to 25.7% in 2022, while the share of revenue realized abroad averaged 44.2%.

In this rapidly changing global market scenario subject to sudden changes and fluctuations, nearly a decade ago Mozzanica&Mozzanica made the decision to open to foreign markets as well.

But as it did when it started its activities in 1987, the company first decided to leverage its original field: maintenance services. Compared to the Italian market, foreign clients, particularly American ones, were still looking for a supplier to partner with not merely based on cost, but above all, based on trust. The supplier had to be able to solve their problems, manage unforeseen issues, and find solutions so that the client could run their business smoothly.

This is where the hallmark of Italian companies comes into play: being able to skillfully handle a variety of situations that may arise.

Mozzanica was no exception; in fact, it was this approach—bringing together people, engineering knowledge, resources, and a constant supply of spare parts—that enabled the company to make its mark. They expanded their services to include consulting, as well as the design and construction of turnkey systems.

In 2015, Mozzanica opened its first branch in the USA, which then went through three expansion processes. In 2023, it inaugurated its global network with service points located in Los Angeles, Dubai, Singapore, and Sydney.

In our view, Italian entrepreneurship is of exceptional quality but is often overshadowed by negative news or perceptions of our country.
Italians should recognize their talents and promote them with pride!

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