Cersaie 2010: Conferences and Seminars
Symposium: Climate change?
An opportunity or a risk? While there is a need for a change of direction, there are also concerns about a rapidly changing scenario in which the trends are increasingly difficult to focalise and predict. And in the background, the only certainty is that nothing will be as it was before.
(simultaneous interpreting into English)
Press release A "change of climate" for the Italian ceramic industry
Economy, infrastructures and competitiveness are the topics of debate in the opening conference of the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tiles and Bathroom Furnishings. On the horizon, the new challenges that must be addressed in order to embark on a new stage of sustainable development for the sector
An opportunity or a risk? While there is an evident need for a change of direction, there is also concern about a rapidly changing scenario in which the trends are increasingly difficult to observe and predict. And in the background, the only certainty is that nothing will be as it was before. The opening conference of Cersaie 2010, the International Exhibition of Ceramic Tiles and Bathroom Furnishings, begins with a question: “Climate change?”
Moderated by journalist Maurizio Beretta, the theme was discussed by Stefano Saglia, vice minister for Economic Development, Alberto Bombassei, vice chairman of Confindustria, Vasco Errani, president of Regione Emilia-Romagna, and Marco Fortis, professor at the Catholic University of Milan and vice chairman of Fondazione Edison, as well as Confindustria Ceramica chairman Franco Manfredini, who played host. A climate of tension or confidence, stormy weather or a recovery: climatic metaphors appear particularly suited to describing the state of health and trends in the country’s socio-economic situation.
“In economic terms, climate change can be interpreted in many ways,” noted Confindustria Ceramica chairman Franco Manfredini. “Technological progress and globalisation have had a profound impact on companies’ activities, and we have reached a situation in which transformation is essential for survival in the face of ever fiercer international competition. The economic crisis has only made the problem worse. But “climate change” can also be seen in a positive light: we now have the opportunity to win back the ground we have lost and resume growth, but to do this requires a different kind of development that is not tainted by financial speculation. And at an exhibition that continues to be the foremost trade fair for our sector, we cannot fail to send out a message of optimism. This optimism is part of our nature as entrepreneurs but must be accompanied by a will to act. A quick look around the exhibition is sufficient to see just how much our companies are continuing to invest and focus on technological innovation. But we demand that the political class also respond to the challenge. We cannot continue to pay 20% higher energy prices than our European competitors. We must address longstanding infrastructure inadequacies and at last are seeing progress in the issue of the Campogalliano-Sassuolo motorway link road. Last but not least, we must continue to fight for a European standard on goods traceability.” The conference was also an opportunity for a shared debate on the effects of the crisis, the current strategies and future projects in the light of the latest economic figures.
“We are at a crossroads,” noted Marco Fortis, economist and vice chairman of Fondazione Edison. “The worst is certainly behind us but this certainly does not mean that the world economy has recovered. The crisis has affected four major areas – finance, building, industry and commerce – as well as household consumption. Moreover, we have seen that GDP is not an adequate indicator for measuring the state of health of an economy, as demonstrated by the fact that in countries such as the United States where GDP fell by just 3 percentage points, household consumption dropped by 15%, whereas in Italy where GDP fell by 5 points household consumption actually rose by 1%. The issue is complicated by the fact that Italian excellence lies in sectors that are very closely linked to international trade patterns, products for the home and industrial machinery. For this reason the recovery will come but it will be slow.”
In particular the speakers discussed the role of infrastructures as a lever for development, beginning with major new developments in the ceramic manufacturing district with the recent go-ahead from the CIPE (Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning) for the construction of the Campogalliano–Sassuolo link road, a 17 km stretch of road that has been eagerly awaited for decades in order to connect the A1 motorway with the ceramic industry’s capital Sassuolo. They also discussed the competitiveness of economic districts, production systems with a high degree of excellence that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the international crisis but are ready to take up the challenge and reassume their role as drivers of recovery.
“Amongst the many disasters produced by the crisis, there is also a positive element: the fact that it has speeded up the process of modernisation of industrial relations in our country,” noted Confindustria vice chairman Alberto Bombassei. “Flexibility must not be confused with the absence of rules. We were the first to talk of exceptions from the national labour contract and these exceptions were agreed one by one with the social partners. But it is now clear that our duty as the managerial class is to focus on growth, not just in terms of GDP but as an essential condition for safeguarding employment and preparing for the future. There are issues on the table, such as youth unemployment, that demand a rapid and effective response. We have a big responsibility in this respect and want this responsibility to be shared by the political class and trade unions.”
“The ceramic district,” observed president of Regione Emilia-Romagna Vasco Errani, “remains a strategic sector for the regional economy. We have worked hard in the past together with Confindustria Ceramica to support this sector. We want to continue in the coming years to support both the ceramic industry and Cersaie, a world-class event that must continue to be held here. What the country can no longer wait for, however, is an effective industrial policy. How many genuine resources do we have for infrastructures? What are the top priorities for which we are prepared to forge a new agreement between Government and Regions? We are doing our part, investing in the links between universities and business through the technical and research centres, supporting the internationalisation of the manufacturing system, and supporting the credit system so that companies do not lack essential resources. The challenge now facing the whole country is that of fiscal federalism, but it is a challenge that we cannot address if we have to navigate by sight.”
“In the time of Mattei, it was believed that strong state intervention in the economy was inevitable,” argued Stefano Saglia, vice minister for Economic development. “This approach is now outdated, both because there would not be sufficient resources and because we believe that the role of the State itself has changed, which rather than guiding businesses must strive to maintain social cohesion, as we have done for example by supporting and boosting the mechanism of social shock-absorbers. The question we must ask is what will happen after the shock-absorbers, and this is where industrial restructuring comes into play. As for the second issue, that of credit, in Italy there has been no need for a strong state intervention to save the banks, but actions have been required to ensure that businesses do not lack the necessary liquidity. This is exactly what we have done by offering guarantees for small and medium-sized companies. Last but not least are the energy infrastructures, another key aspect of our industrial policy together with road infrastructures. Here the effects will be seen in the medium term and for this reason we have chosen to invest in regasification units and have reopened the debate on nuclear energy while making further investments in renewable energy.”
Cersaie Press Office - 28 SEPTEMBER 2010 - email@example.com