Source: Repubblica – Affari&Finanza
Asia giveth and Asia taketh away. Today more than ever, it seems that the future of the West (Italy included) rides on what is happening in the world’s largest continent. The whole world is directly exposed to the Chinese coronavirus emergency, which risks infecting our economy as well, despite the swift action taken by China’s central bank in an attempt to limit the damage.
Alberto Forchielli, a well-known figure who knows the Far East inside out because he spends several months each year there, speaks of “black swans” looming more or less everywhere, with declining GDP growth in China and severe repercussions for the European Union. I also asked him about the reality of the epidemic in the land of the Great Wall. His response was laconic: “It’s very real.”
Yet even if China no longer seems so near, in the coming months Asia is set to host an event that is expected to mitigate – to the extent possible – the adverse economic consequences of the great contagion, partially offsetting the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. I am referring to the Dubai Expo, to be held in the six-month period beginning in October 2020, which will prominently showcase what Arab countries have to offer to the entire world.
If the 2015 Milan Expo was just what Italy needed to get back on track – and the city of Milan is still reaping the benefits of that event today – then the Dubai Expo could act as a tonic to the entire world economy, which urgently needs to recover from the new Chinese syndrome.
Yet what is good for the Gulf will also be good for us, as I was told by Paolo Glisenti, the Italian commissioner responsible for the event, who has no doubts on the matter: “It will be the most important promotional event of the next few years for Italy’s economy.”
Glisenti’s prediction is borne out by the conservative calculations performed by the Polytechnic University of Milan’s School of Management: the economic consequences of the big event for Italy are expected to amount to approximately €1.6 billion a year for five years, for the impressive sum of around €8 billion over the entire period. How were these figures calculated? By betting it all on Italy’s great strengths, based on the time-tested formula of combining Italian craftsmanship and creativity.
A formula that should translate into an increase in Italian exports to Gulf nations (among the areas where consumption is growing most rapidly), increased international tourism in Italy and greater Arab investments in the country. The massive presence at the Expo of our cultural system – which currently generates approximately €265 billion in wealth, or 6.1% of GDP – will also prove important.
Now more than ever before, as we await a recovery in the Far East, we need to play the Expo card well. It could be a powerful wildcard, but these days, one had better knock on wood.