Attorney Cerutti, almost two years since the opening of the Spanish desk, which provides assistance to Italian operators interested in the Spanish market and vice versa, could you make a brief assessment of the situation of Italian companies in Spain.
In recent years the tendency for Italian companies has been without doubt to reduce investments in loco (except for Enel/ Endesa in 2009) to give priority to commercial operations and import/ export. Although it may seem strange, the volume of exports between Italy and Spain, after several years of decline, increased significantly during 2010. We also noticed a change in the export sectors. Italy now seems to export more intermediate goods and investment (mining products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals) and fewer consumer goods (furniture, food and textiles).
Internationalization has become a key concept for any company wishing to grow their business. Do you think that there are differences in approach to foreign markets between the Italian and Spanish operators?
For internationalization, there are no recipes, but precise (and know well known) performance standards. Historically, Italian companies have always been more open to foreign markets, acquiring over the years more familiarity with the international tendencies. This has meant that, by transforming the global international scene, Italian companies understood before the Spanish that the barrier of distance has declined: globalization entered every household in every country, reflecting and shaping the quality, prices and margins of the markets which were previously domestic and are now territorial.
What are the elements that mark the difference between companies in the era of globalization?
Innovation is the key to challenge world markets: companies that invest in research and development have a greater ability repositioning themselves in global markets than those which remain on the defensive, without investing in the future, making it easier to alleviate the violent and increasingly rapid progress of the impact of the technological frontier of advanced countries and cost competition from emerging countries.
Returning to the Spanish desk and generally, your operations in Spain, can you take stock of results achieved to date?
Despite the general negatives eventualities, our study has managed to positively increase its activity between Italy and Spain. With the incorporation of Cerutti & Partners, as member for Italy, to Balms Group International (BGI), we have been able to expand our presence in Spain, in collaboration with Balms Abogados, based in Madrid, Marbella, Vigo and Catalonia.
In terms of services offered to our clients, taking into account the serious crisis in the Spanish real estate sector, due in part to the sometimes uncouth urbanization and in part to a not always professional approach from the operators, we established a institutional relationship with the International Association of Real Estate Assessors and Consultants in Madrid, of which I was appointed Vice President.
In recent months, the economic crisis and companies difficult access to credit, have led to an increase in cases of insolvency. Based on your experience, do you think that this situation has affected, and how, trade relations between Italian and Spanish companies?
Insolvency is a widespread problem, affecting all sectors of the economy. I do not think you can say that this has particularly affected trade relations between the two countries, although in Spain and in Italy there has been an increase in applications for credit recovery.
What kind of support is available regarding this topic?
Cerutti & Partners has a department dedicated to debt collection practices: depending on customer needs, we offer a recovery of credit service at a personalized cost, according to the result achieved and controlled on-line within the restricted area of the website of the firm, http://www.ceruttilex.it/.