Italy-Algeria trade reaches 9 bn, can still grow

Pasquale-Ferrara-Italian-Ambassador-to-Algeria
Pasquale Ferrara, Italian Ambassador to Algeria

Italy is Algeria’s main trading partner, with commercial exchange totaling nine billion dollars, according to Italian Ambassador to Algeria Pasquale Ferrara, currently visiting Rome for a conference on migration organised by LUISS University.

“It’s a solid relationship,” Ferrara said.

“There are 180 Italian companies in Algeria, but in constant transformation” due to the Algerian government’s economic diversification policy, he said.

Ferrara said Italy can grow even more in Algeria, with potential in the areas of renewables and agrobusiness, as well as the traditional sectors of energy, technology, and large-scale construction. He said that to facilitate trade, a new Italo-Algerian entrepreneurs’ association will be formed, as the first step towards creating an Italo-Algerian Chamber of Commerce.

Thus far, new partnerships have been limited by Algeria’s 51/49 rule, which reserves for Algerian businesses at least 51% of capital of new businesses started with foreigners.

This limit reduces momentum for Italian businesses, above all small businesses.

“The association will serve to create trust between the parties,” Ferrara said.

He said that while “economic sovereignty will remain important in strategic sectors such as defense, telecommunications, and energy”, at the same time things in other sectors should become simpler for foreign investors.

Despite this, competition in the Algerian market remains ruthless.

China is continuing its expansive policy throughout Africa and in the Maghreb, buying up important market share in the sectors of infrastructure and large-scale construction, a main example of which is the Chinese-built Djamaa El Djazair mosque.

Ferrara noted, however, that Italian companies carried out the interior decorations, which he said is a sign that “when Italy does Italy, and works on partnership and quality, it has nothing to fear from the competition”.