Rome - Foreign companies in Italy have been increasing at a steady pace for several years and, at the end of 2017, reached the 590,000-mark, almost 10% of all companies doing business in Italy. The latest data released by Unioncamere on companies managed by foreign-born individuals reveals a growth that surpassed that of even the Italian companies in 2017: + 3.4% compared to the previous year, compared to + 0.75% increase in Italian companies. A growth that in some regions, with strong entrepreneurial traditions - such as Tuscany, Veneto, Liguria and Marche - helped bridge the gap between negative and positive results. While region by region the most attractive in terms of absolute numbers is Lombardy, with 114,000 companies, followed by Lazio (77,000) and Tuscany (55,000), the city of Prato continues to be firmly at the top of the ranking of cities with the greatest density of foreign companies: 27.8%, followed, with a gap of over 10 percent by Trieste (16%) and Florence (15.8%).
In Milan, that percentage was 14.4%, while in Rome 13.4%. In 2017, the area with the highest growth rate of foreign entrepreneurial activity was Campania (+ 6.1% for the region, + 9.6% in Naples), followed by the Marche (+ 4.5% overall, +8% for its capital Macerata), and Lazio (+ 4.3%). The only region with a negative growth in foreign-owned companies is Sicily, with 2,057 company closures compared to 1,888 new businesses (a shortfall of 169 companies). The sector in which foreign companies have the greatest presence overall is that of retail trade (about 162,000 companies, 19% of all companies in the sector), followed by specialized construction firms (109,000, 21% of the total), and food services (just over 43,000 firms, equal to 11% of the entire sector). In relative terms, however, the businesses with the highest ratio of foreign ownership are telecommunications, with 3,627 companies (33.6% of the total), and clothing manufacturing, with 16,000 foreign-led companies (30% of the sector).
A breakdown by country of origin reveals that Morocco heads the list, followed by China and Romania. Some nationalities have selected their entrepreneurial homelands in specific Italian municipalities: almost half (44.7%) of all enterprises owned by Egyptians are concentrated in the Milan area; 42.5% of Bangladeshi business owners are in Rome, and 19.6% of the Pakistani business community is located in Naples, while the “capital” of Chinese entrepreneurship in Italy is Milan, where 11% of those originating from “the Middle Kingdom” have established their businesses. In 2016 (latest data available), the 2.4 million immigrants working in Italy contributed €130.87 billion to the gross domestic product (8.9% of the total), and paid about €7 billion in income taxes. In 2015 they contributed €11.5 billion in social security contributions.