A Conversation With The Italian Export Credit Agency

Finding the best and more efficient financial support is fundamental for companies that want to expand abroad. Surely one of the biggest instruments given by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance is SACE (Sezione Speciale per l'Assicurazione del Credito all'Esportazione), the Italian Export Credit Agency.

This week we met Jay Chen 陈家豪, SACE China Relationship Manager in Shanghai.

How would you introduce yourself and your experience in China?

SACE is the Italian Export Credit Agency, under the Ministry of Economy and Finance which has the institutional role of supporting the internationalization strategies of Italian companies and supporting the Export of Italy.

Historically speaking, the growth of the Italian GDP has been supported by export both during expansion and recovery phases. In the last decade, Italian exports have increased constantly offsetting the drop in capital investments, consumptions, and government spending. In particular, with regards to the machinery and mechanical industry, which counts about 50% of the Italian export towards China, reaching more than 12 bln EUR on yearly basis.

In this context, SACE, the Export Credit Agency of Italy, supports national firms’ export and globalization strategies by offering a combination of guarantees, loans, equity investments, and advisory services.

The SACE International Network is currently made up of 12 representative offices abroad, located in countries that are strategic for Italian companies in terms of export. In China, SACE is represented by the Hong Kong office which is also Hub of the APAC area opened back in 2006, and the Shanghai Office opened in 2018.

SACE is the first European Export Credit Agency to open a representative office in China (the second on a global scale after South Korea). I am the China Relationship Manager based in Shanghai. Of Chinese origin, I spent more than half of my life in Italy. With our positioning and my dual-identity background, we intend to enforce and be stronger as a bridge connection between China and Italy.

Amazing Economic Opportunities

Considering your personal history and your actual position here in China, how do you value the different challenges and opportunities of this Country?

Being here on the ground of the second biggest world economy is a big opportunity. Not only because of the performance of the Chinese economy, due to its size, but also because of the Going Out policy that China has been pursuing for years, of which the B&R Initiative is only one of the most significant manifestations.

And it is not only the economic advantage that makes the Italian-Chinese economic collaboration a win-win path. There are also socio-cultural factors that cement this relationship. Like the Chinese, the Italians have always shown great ability to move, produce and adapt successfully to different and challenging operational contexts.

Regarding the challenges: Deal with the timing is another important action: China is going at an incredibly high speed and businessmen need to act and decide accordingly.

Another challenge is being able to protect yourself in the complicated and intricate world of different entities. Different counterparts need to be approached in different ways, with different due diligence procedures.

From your point of view and your experience in dealing with enterprises in cross-border trading, which advice would you give to companies that are approaching a foreign market like China?

From a business point of view and in particular, starting from SACE’s perspective, Italian companies present here in China should leverage SACE’s tool to boost their sales in China. Other than SACE, they should also make use of all the institutional tools given both by Italy, Europe and China. All the diplomatic networks, ITA, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce, together with SACE, are doing great efforts and work contributing to reinforce and develop cultural relations and commercial business opportunities between Italy and China.

Communication is the keyword.

Companies have to communicate both internally and externally: being part of the Italian system is a strong point that should be enhanced and pursued by all the Italian exporters.

Surely, a broad and extended preparation in terms of defining a clear strategy before entering the Chinese market is important. Each company should do a thorough analysis of the costs, risks, and opportunities of their presence in the Chinese market. Getting the help of a third party can ease a lot of this part of the job.

Communication Is Fundamental To Succeed Importing

Communicating means also speaking with professionals on-site, which have more experience and knowledge about the local situation. And with this, getting a better picture of how and if the project is suitable for the local market and which one is the best strategy to succeed.

And with those precious suggestions, we thank Mr. Jay Chen for the time dedicated to this interview, wishing SACE good luck with all the future projects.

A special thanks to our collaborator Jane, for her translation of this piece.

If you liked our story or if you have any questions, leave a comment below.

If you are a company, an organization, or an entrepreneur involved in business between Italy & China, and vice-versa, contact us at info@sinosee.net to tell your story, we'd love to hear from you.

If you want to know more about SACE - Simest instruments, please visit the website www.sacesimest.it