Economy at the forefront – La Stampa

The resistance goes through Mariupol. Also for northwestern companies. For weeks, the piece of land Tzarevna has been blocked in the port of the symbolic city of Ukraine. It transports plates destined for the Italian steel industry. It’s a ship from the group of Augusto Cosulich and his family. Born in 1953, shipowner, educated in law, knight of workers. He does not break down and bite his teeth: on the other hand, he has run for a lifetime, is a marathon runner and used to suffering over long distances. Thus, he recounts from Genoa the initiatives with Richard Burton’s and Clint Eastwood’s air in “Where Eagles Dare”.

“We are negotiating with the Republic of Donetsk, it is not recognized, but they have the responsibility – explains the industrialist – and there is constant contact with both Farnesina and the Maltese government because the hull carries the island’s flag. We still have five crew members of Bulgarian origin on board. The hull was hit by shrapnel but reported no serious damage.The wreck of a large bombed crane must be eliminated.So, if we manage to set sail while avoiding the mines even in front of Odessa, we reach the Black Sea for the purpose of Turkey.And it is “Fratelli Cosulich”, of Trieste origin, in the Ligurian capital has taken root – as well as for shipping – also for diversification in the steel industry. This is where their Ukrainian partner Metinvest is located, for which they have been exclusive agents in Italian ports since 2017. And with the Swiss Trasteel, they own Tecnosider Workshops in San Giorgio di Nogaro (Udine), they make steel laminates.

Opposite front. In Kaluga, a car cluster 180 kilometers from Moscow, there has been a Cellino-Group factory in Grugliasco (Turin) since 2015. The family-owned company has a turnover of about 300 million a year, cold-worked steel and aluminum for industrial vehicles, earthmoving machines and energy with over 1,600 employees and 18 factories in Europe. Russia was not an emigration. This has helped to strengthen the company, which is headquartered in the Northwest. Seven years ago, Volvo Truck wanted them close. But now it has stopped production in protest against the Kremlin. Fabrizio Cellino, third generation, CEO: “In mid-March, we were forced to stop operations,” he explains. We continue to pay employees. Fortunately, the ruble has appreciated. But we fear Putin’s “nationalization,” meaning that our business will be stolen. We will not be able to resist that much. ”

Is there an alternative plan? “We are studying it,” said the entrepreneur, who is also national vice president of Confapi, “although the government is quite silent, despite having a stake in our company with Simest.” Unfortunately, one point is clear: the longer the conflict lasts, the less the chances of reopening. We simulate an exit, that is, bringing the plants to another country, such as Poland. But beyond the cost, it would be risky because you have to cross the border. So we negotiate with Volvo. If we do critical mass when dealing with Moscow, we might get something. However, the employees are from Kaluga and the surrounding area ».

For companies, resistance means keeping all communication channels open. Giorgio Barone, born in 1944, with extensive experience in Unido (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), has always been involved in the certification of goods. Now it does so for the Genoese QSA, for products destined from all over Europe for the countries of the former Soviet Union. “There is an unofficial part of the market that needs to be listened to,” he explains. Fiat industries are involved, China is unable to take advantage of this because the layout of the plants is different Problems Products that are too sophisticated are considered by NATO to be risky for military use and are therefore blocked. there is an economic mess that has exploded now that many transfers from Russia and Ukraine are failing.On the other hand, in terms of fashion, textiles and food, someone is triangulating in Belarus.We go to buy there like we did with cigarettes in Switzerland.The advantage of us Italians is that we are fast … ».

The corporate structure in the Northwest is robust. Giampaolo Vitali, National Secretary of Gei, Business Economists Group, coordinated a study by CNR-IRCrES at the University of Turin: “It is based on a 2019 database – the economist specifies – but it is very reliable. It concerns only Russia, but the overall indication is accurate. The 1,037 companies in Piedmont, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta that export to Moscow represent only 8% of the exporting companies, 10% of the total exports from Italy, 15% of the turnover, 13% of the employees involved. These are companies with an average size larger than the Italian one and are therefore less affected by the blockade of exports, whose weight is limited to 0.8% against 1.3% in Italy ‘. As for saying: The previous crises, from 2008 onwards, have hardened the companies in the area, even though the variables involved are many. The trade balance in 2021 of the three regions was played off Ukraine with imports of 218.6 million and exports of 221.2 million and for Russia with imports of over 117 million and exports of almost 937 million.

During 2022, the hands of the economy will change. “For the steel industry, we are looking for raw materials elsewhere: in Brazil, India, China. They cost a little more, the quality is not the same, but it allows margins », adds Augusto Cosulich. His group ended last year with a record profit, a turnover of 1.5 billion and Ebitda of 40 million: “I am pessimistic about this war, but we will also find other solutions to freight routes. We are here every day to develop plans B ».

The shock wave of the conflict disrupts logistics and transport. “This is true,” notes Mirella Ferrero of Parella, near Ivrea, born in 1960, president of Osai, a company that since 1991 has been offering solutions based on standard systems or special machines for assembling and testing high-tech components for industry. semiconductors, automotive and electronics manufacturing. They have 200 employees, have a turnover of 35 million, 85% exports. “We are concerned about supplies,” Ferrero said, “because there is a lot of uncertainty. Due to the war, transportation became impossible. Now, however, there is the economic issue to worry about, with inflation and interest rates rising following the recent actions of the ECB.

How do you want to resist? “We trained and continue to do so,” Ferrero replies, “with the” supply chain contract “activated by Intesa Sanpaolo. We have about fifty smaller companies online than ours that can access as suppliers our rating class assigned to us as a leader. “There is a digital portal that allows you to be regular with payments, with advance invoices and simplified bureaucracy. The credit system supports us and that is the only way to get out of it.”

Could reshoring help the “resistance”, that is, bring outsourced production and suppliers back to the Northwest? “Only partially”, seizes Lorenzo Ciofalo, 51, CEO of Tiesse di Ivrea, 20 million in turnover, 70 employees producing and building routers, network equipment and M2M / IoT devices. «The supply chains will shorten, Confindustria Piemonte has a good plan in this regard, but it was not practical for us to bring a company branch from Asia back here. If anything and it will be curious to monitor, foreign suppliers may come from us who have a low country risk. But we need to create optimal conditions as a local system. ”

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