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Lombard exports in the face of tariffs, Trump and geopolitical instability

The new global challenges for Lombard companies in the SACE 2018 Risk Map. At the centre of the conference, the point of view of firms: Serioplast, GFM, Brembana & Rolle

11 April 2018

Bergamo, 11 April 2018 - The Trump effect on international markets, the possible risk of trade wars and the increase in episodes of political violence. How can Bergamo companies face the complexities of the new global environment, seizing the great opportunities that exports and internationalisation can offer? Which geographical areas should they focus on?

These are the questions that prompted the organisation today in Bergamo of the conference “Lombard exports in the face of tariffs, Trump and geopolitical instability” (at the Giovanni XXIII Congress Centre). Organised in collaboration with Confindustria Bergamo by SACE SIMEST, the export and internationalisation hub of the CDP Group, the event featured the presentation of the 2018 Country Risk Map.

At the centre of the event, the experiences of companies involved in the Bergamo export trade - Serioplast, GFM and Brembana & Rolle - who discussed strategies for dealing with international markets with the experts of SACE SIMEST.

With over €120 billion in goods sold abroad in 2017, Lombardy is the leading Italian exporting region, by itself representing more than a quarter of national exports, and has been able to benefit from the revival of global growth, posting an expansion of 7.5%. Exports are mainly directed towards the EU countries, with ample scope for diversification into new destination countries with greater risk but excellent business potential. Among these, the Country Risk Map identifies China, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and India, to name just some.

We are proud to have hosted the SACE SIMEST roadshow in Bergamo for the first time as part of our ongoing partnership: in 2014, Confindustria Bergamo opened a SACE Point at its headquarters, followed by the opening of the SIMEST branch in 2016. A SACE/SIMEST official is present once a week or on call, depending on the needs of the member firms. This activity is accompanied by numerous meetings, conferences and technical workshops organised with the collaboration of SACE,” said Aniello Aliberti, Vice President of Confindustria Bergamo in charge of credit, corporate taxation and internationalisation. “In a province like ours, which has a strong focus on exports, it is essential to rely on effective tools, tailored to the real needs of companies. For example, these include individual insurance coverage and the rapid granting of guarantees and bonding. The growing interest of our companies in SACE and SIMEST confirms that we are headed in the right direction and that there is room for further growth in our collaborative effort.

Lombard companies have long expanded successfully abroad, in the conviction that exports and internationalisation are essential for growth and competitiveness,” remarked Alessandro Decio, CEO of SACE. “Fully aware of the great potential of this territory, we stand at the side of the business standouts of Lombardy, and especially those in the province of Bergamo, which through our contact point at Confindustria Bergamo can acquire all the information they need on the solutions offered by SACE SIMEST and seize the best opportunities found in both advanced mature countries and emerging markets.

To remain competitive in a world where barriers are rising, we need to focus not only on exports but also on production abroad, supporting “Made in Italy” with “Made with Italy”, said Salvatore Rebecchini, Chairman of SIMEST. “Bergamo companies have always been particularly active in international markets. Since the beginning of its operations, SIMEST has provided support to 42 direct foreign investments promoted by companies from this province, for a total investment of over €37 million. Moreover, loans for internationalisation number over 120, with a total value of €81 million. Our goal is to increase the volume of our operations by exploiting synergies with SACE.

In just the last year, the SACE SIMEST hub has served 5,700 Lombard companies, mainly SMEs, mobilising over €3.6 billion in resources to support exports and investments abroad.


SACE Risk Map | Sectors and markets of opportunity for Lombard exports

In 2017, Lombardy confirmed its position as the leading Italian region for exports, with over €120 billion of goods and services sold, equal to 27% of the national total and an increase of 7.5% on the previous year. This was a very positive result, in line with the national figure (+7.4%), with sales in the EU countries making the largest contribution (+7.8%), led by Germany, Spain and France, all with low levels of credit and political risk. Outside the common market, strong growth was registered in demand in the United States (+12.8%), China (+9.9%) and Russia (+27.8%), while a decline was posted in the Middle East due to the political instability that characterises the area.

Lombard exports should not be affected by the recent duties imposed on steel and aluminium by the Trump administration, given the exemption granted to the EU as a whole. However, it will be important to monitor the evolution of relations, as an escalation of trade conflict could especially affect the Lombard automotive sector, which is very important for the economy of the province of Bergamo.

Examining exports by individual sector, encouraging signs emerge for mechanical engineering (in Poland, Spain, United States), metal products (China, Mexico), textiles and clothing (South Korea, Japan), chemicals (UAE, India) and transport equipment (Poland, Czech Republic, China). These sectors represent 64% of the region’s exports.

For the province of Bergamo in particular, the positive overall performance of Lombardy exports has involved segments ranging from industrial machinery (+9.3% in the first 9 months of 2017), to dairy products (+14%), textiles and clothing in Val Seriana (+1.9%) and rubber products in the Sebino Bergamo area. The exports of these districts are mainly directed towards the EU countries (55%) and still have considerable scope for diversification towards new destination countries with greater risk but excellent business potential, such as Turkey, Brazil, Russia and Tunisia.


Risks and opportunities for Lombard exports in 2018


       5 sectors = 64% of exports              Countries of opportunity


Leading regional exporter: €120.3 billion (27% of Italian total)

Industrial machinery

United States - Spain - Poland




Metal products

China - Mexico



Export growth in 2017 +7.5% (Italy 7.4%)

Textiles and clothing

South Korea - Japan

Russia – Tunisia



Chemical products

United Arab Emirates – India



Leading destination countries: Germany, France, United States, Spain and Switzerland (40% of total)

Transport equipment

Poland – Czech Republic - China





Low risk

Higher risk



SACE Risk Map | How to use it

To assess risks and opportunities associated with internationalisation, SACE offers companies its Risk&Export Map, an integrated tool to help Italian companies identify the countries with the greatest potential not only for exports but also for investments, thanks to two indices: the Export Opportunity Index (EOI) and the Investment Opportunity Index (IOI).


Discover the new Risk&Export Map >>


Contact details for the media

SACE | Ufficio Stampa

T. +39 06 6736888



Contact details for firms

SACE | Customer Care

Numero Verde 800 269 264


SACE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, offers export credit services, credit insurance, protection of foreign investments, financial guarantees, bonding, and factoring services. With €87 billion in transactions insured in 198 countries, it supports the competitiveness of companies in Italy and abroad, ensuring more stable cash flows and transforming the default risk of companies into development opportunities.

SIMEST, 76%-owned by SACE, with leading Italian banks and trade associations among its other investors, supports companies throughout their entire international development process, providing soft loans for internationalisation, export credit support and equity investments.  Together, SACE and SIMEST form the export and internationalisation hub of the CDP Group