Despite mutual sanctions, the Russian-Italian cooperation is moving forward, with the Made with Italy format as a new driver. Majorjoint projects in energy and aerospace are underway. Year-to-date, the trade turnover between Russia and Italy has already increased by almost 33%.
In 2016, Italy was Russia’s 6th top sales partner (USD 19.8 billion). The trade keeps on restoring after the decline caused by the sanctions, having increased by 33% year-to-date.
The Russian investments in the Italian economy stand at USD 2.4 billion, which is twice as much as Italy has invested in Russia.
In 2016, the Italian exports to Russia were mainly represented by mechanical engineering products (42.6%), chemicals (22.13%) and agricultural products (9.74%).
Russia predominantly exported energy (83.16%). Italy remains Western Europe’s second largest consumer of Russian gas (after Germany), which fills 43% of its fuel needs.
High-tech cooperation is in progress. Russian Helicopters, Leonardo Finmeccanica and Rosneft are working together to localise production of AW189 helicopters in Russia. ROSATOM, NRC Kurchatov Institute and their Italian partners are building the Ignitor thermonuclear reactor in Troitsk. Early in 2017, the Consortium of Italian Universities and Enterprises announced its plans to invest EUR 40 million in a joint Italian-Russian manned interplanetary voyage simulation experiment.
In 2016, the number of Russian tourist arrivals to Italy exceeded 700,000, while Russia was visited by over 192,000 Italians.
Under the sanctions, both Russia and Italy seek new cooperation opportunities.
The Made in Italy format gives way to a new Made with Italy trend. In a strive to launch joint projects, more than 150 Italian businesses are looking for partners in Russia. The idea is for Russia to import “semi‑products” that would not be subject to the sanctions rather than finished products. This model is especially popular in mechanical engineering, consumer goods and chemical industry, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.
In the talks with the Italian President and Prime Minister in spring 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted progress in the bilateral relations and pointed out the importance of industrial cooperation, primarily in the high-tech sector. He also expressed willingness to support Italian companies in their Russia-based operations.