Stefano Ravagnan
Italian Ambassador to Kazakhstan

Edited by Gaetano Borrelli

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Stefano Ravagnan
Innovation is among those boosters driving economy at large, what is its role in promoting the Italian economy in eastern countries, like the one you have a direct experience of as Italian Ambassador?

The Kazakh market is rich in opportunities for Italian companies, at the same time we have objective and evident disadvantages in the competition with countries like China, Russia and Turkey, which are closer to Kazakhstan or, like in the Russian case, partner of it in an economic integration process. In such circumstances innovation-based products and services are essential to fill the gap and keep the “made-in-Italy” attractive. The around 8% increase of our exports last year, although in a period of well-known difficulties, testifies to the strength of our production, with an important increase specifically in machineries and construction materials.

According to your valuable opinion, what is the international ranking of the Italian productive system? Could you mention the relevant strengths and weaknesses?

As seen from here, the “made-in-Italy” still enjoys a strong reputation and the local consumer or businessperson values it a lot; the brand and the flexibility of our SME’s system in adapting to the changing needs of the market are our strengths. In this context I draw attention to the many Italian projects of joint ventures with local companies in order to localize part of the production, transfer technologies and promote skills, an approach which perfectly fits in with the Kazakh Government’s strategies and is in line with the “made-with-Italy” promoted also in other countries of the region.

As weakness I’d mention the still insufficient capacity of our companies to act as a “system” in partnership with public institutions; besides I’d invite our businesspeople to carefully analyze the opportunities offered by the projects financed by the IFI and to pay attention to the initiatives – in terms of privatizations and joint projects – promoted in Kazakhstan by the State holding Samruk Kazyna.

Do you think that Astana Expo2017 or events of this sort can make the Italian companies operating abroad perform better?

Any Expo is a peculiar event, being a huge platform open to business, people and culture. In the Astana case there’s a unique opportunity to learn about the country, and Central Asia as a whole, which until now had mainly a strong reputation as an oil producer. As innovations are supposed to be presented and companies from all over the world will be present at or visit the exposition, I think that everyone is stimulated at the best of his capacities; creativity being an Italian national feature, I can assure that we can be among the main actors. …