Opening of Milan Expo in 2015

by Marzia De Giuli

Italy is “vigorous enough” to get back on the right track soon despite the debt crisis that threatens to cripple its economy, a local business leader said Monday.

“I am sure Italy will see a marked recovery by the opening of Milan Expo in 2015,” Carlo Maria Sangalli, president of Milan Chamber of Commerce, told Xinhua.

Admitting that the crisis has “left its mark on the Italian entrepreneurial system“, Sangalli noted that in the commercial sector, some 23,000 companies have either registered a negative balance or stopped their operations in the first months of 2011.

Despite instability in international markets, sales, orders and employment are stable in Italy, while entrepreneurs show cautious optimism about the future of their business, he said, citing a recent research of his chamber.

Italy runs up a public debt of some 1,900 billion euros (2,500 billion U.S. dollars), but it is still the world’s fifth largest industrial economy and has all the strengths to keep the debt in check, said Sangalli, who is also president of Confcommercio, the largest confederation of enterprises in Italy consisting of more than 700,000 companies.

Figures from Italy’s national statistics institute ISTAT show that Italy has five million enterprises, whose exports have grown 16 percent year-on-year in the first six months of 2011, he said.

And in 2010 Italy’s exports were valued at more than 337 billion euros (455 billion dollars), he said, adding that apart from 57.6 percent of exports to other EU members, only eight percent went to the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, indicating Italy has an enormous potential for export growth in emerging markets.

“Despite the speculative attacks over the past months, our banking system is structurally solid. And on the other hand, Italian citizens, more than 80 percent of whom own a house, have always shown a wise and intelligent use of their savings,” he said.

In a public speech last week, Sangalli said the Milan Chamber of Commerce will buy Italian treasury bonds (BTP) worth 1 million euros (1.3 million dollars) in response to an Italian entrepreneur’s call for a “campaign to rescue Italy by buying its debt.”

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