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Fostering closer trade relations through food and more
FOUNDED in 1991, the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (ICCS) counts more than 200 members in different sectors, ranging from traditional ones like engineering, real estate, construction, healthcare, shipping, finance, O&G, food & beverage, fashion, furniture, defence and automotive to new and emerging ones like digital, biotechnology and start-ups.
The ICCS is a non-profit association recognised by the Italian government and a member of Assocamerestero, an apex body of over 80 Italian chambers in 55 countries with more than 150 offices and over 18,000 members.
It aims to strengthen bilateral relations between Italy and Singapore in collaboration with strategic partners from the two countries.
ICCS is geared to provide a wide range of business services tailored to the requirements of its members, as well as Italian and Singaporean companies.
Thanks to strategic partnerships with institutions, chambers of commerce and agencies in the Asean region, the chamber is a springboard for business in South-east Asia beyond Singapore.
Today, ICCS turnover surpasses S$1.3 million; 50 per cent of which is achieved by business development services provided to Italian companies interested in expanding the business in the region and to Asean companies with a focus on the Italian market.
Twenty-five per cent of the annual turnover is from membership and 25 per cent from events such as networking events, for example the Italian Business Awards, the Gala Dinner and workshops conducted.
On March 28 this year, ICCS's new board was appointed for the term 2019 to 2022. Its new president, Alberto Maria Martinelli, managing director and senior advisor at private bank Julius Baer, has over 20 years of experience as a manager and senior private banker, with a proven track record of managing talents, developing new markets and increasing profitability of mature businesses. He has been an active member of ICCS since 2006 and an ICCS board member and treasurer since 2014.
The new ICCS board's expertise covers the main sectors represented by Italian companies in Singapore. The vice-president, Giacomo Clerici, managing director of Coeclerici Far East, represents the energy sector; while treasurer Gionata Bosco, is general manager of Vimar Asia Pacific, a company in the construction sector.
Honorary vice-president Renato Sirtori spent 43 years with ST Microelectronics and board member Roberto Grilli is general manager of DZ Engineering, which has installed the lighting for the Formula One night race in Singapore since its first year.
Other board members are Bruno Liotta, general manager of Interunion (SEA) Pte Ltd, a local entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in logistics and trading and Andrea Perego, managing director of Mapei Asia Pacific, who represents the construction and infrastructure sectors.
For the automotive sector, there is Adrian Thio, managing director of Pirelli Asia Pte Ltd, a veteran in the consumer tyre industry. Gianluca Trezza, general manager of Elettronica Group Singapore Branch, is a seasoned executive in the defence and homeland security industry; Simon W Tutt is director, Singapore Branch of Unicredit Bank AG; and Paolo Misurale is a partner in Bain & Co's Singapore office.
The ICCS board has launched five committees on shipping, luxury goods, legal, pharma and finance. The committees have specific goals:
1) Networking and market intelligence acquisition related to specific industries;
2) Organise events, seminars and workshops in Singapore and within the region and Italy.
ICCS board's new president, Mr Martinelli, highlighted the role of the chamber as a platform for Italian companies interested to expand their business in the South-east Asian market and for Singaporean companies interested in making inroads in the Italian market.
Every year, ICCS brings more than 50 Singaporean companies to attend fairs and events in Italy in different sectors such as design, food, hospitality and tourism.
The turnover of the chamber explains that ICCS has to work like a normal company in the market, follow trends, understand opportunities and create services and events in line with the needs of Italian and Singaporean companies.
This work and the coordination it involves are handled by the Singaporean and Italian team, which has grown in the last two years to a permanent team of five people in Singapore and one in Italy.
To further understand the needs of the companies, in light of the current trade tensions between the United States and China, ICCS has started to help some Italian companies to differentiate the suppliers' portfolios and identify new suppliers in Asean markets.
Said Mr Martinelli: "Those services are promoted by our team with the support of the local business associations and trade officers of the Asean embassies in Singapore."
Responding to market trends, ICCS is also making changes to annual events like the Italian Food and Beverage in Singapore, which is in its fourth edition. For this year's fair, ICCS has created a second event, focused on Food Innovation. The events will take place at Suntec City Convention Centre on June 19 and 20.
On Sept 24, 2019, the 10th ICCS Business Awards will be held. The awards are an initiative aimed at recognising and celebrating the outstanding contributions of Italian companies in Singapore and the wider Asean economy, and acknowledging the contribution of Singaporean companies to Italian wealth as well.
In the past nine editions of the event, ICCS has awarded Italian and Singaporean investors such as Saipem, Temasek Holdings, PSA Singapore, FJ Benjamin, DZ Engineering, the Elettronica Group, Mapei Far East Pte Ltd, Prysmian Group, Changi Airport International and Fratelli Cosulich Bunkers Singapore Pte Ltd.
In October 2019, ICCS will launch the second edition of CASA, Italian Design and Lifestyle. This year the event will be organised at Little Italy, the first Italian concept store that recently opened at Dempsey Hill by private entrepreneurs and where ICCS is the institutional partner.
In November 2019, the chamber will promote the first Italian Pavilion at the Singapore Fintech Festival.
In order to reach out to the Italian community and Italian entrepreneurs interested in Singapore and the Asean market, ICCS has implemented a strong media promotion programme. This allows ICCS members to promote their companies and services, and Italian and Singaporean entrepreneurs to find out more about the economies of Italy and Singapore.
Giacomo Clerici, vice-president of ICCS, said Singapore and Italy have much in common, including a large number of SMEs, the presence of family businesses and the importance of their manufacturing sectors - an important characteristic that brings the two countries closer.
Mr Martinelli highlighted that "in the context of the recent changes in global trade, Italy and the European Union (EU) will increase commercial and business relationships with Singapore and Asean countries". The recent FTA agreements signed between the EU and Singapore, and the Italy-China Belt and Road deals are testament to this.
In order to strengthen the business relations between Italian and Singaporean companies, on June 6, ICCS president Martinelli and SMF president Douglas Foo signed an MOU of collaboration between ICCS and SMF.
Italy has been on the radar of financial and strategic Singaporean investments: GIC is currently holding a few Italian investments in its portfolio, including Italmobiliare Holdings.