The visit of Italian politicians and businesspersons to Crimea became the largest international visit in the region’s most recent history. During their two-day trip, members of the business community established business contacts, signed commercial declarations of intention, and learned in detail about Crimea’s business climate. The deputies of Italy’s Parliament and Regional Councils ascertained the fact that the situation on the peninsula is stable, signed a cooperation agreement, spoke in favor of developing cooperation with Russia and demanded that the EU leadership lift its sanctions.
- The Yalta International Economic Forum Foundation (YIEF) jointly with the Government of the Republic of Crimea acted as organizers of the visit on behalf of Russia.
- The delegation comprising 18 persons became the largest group of politicians and members of business community from the EU to visit Crimea after its reunification with Russia. The delegation included representatives of large businesses, Tancredi Turco, a Deputy of Italy’s Parliament, Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Regional Council of Veneto, and deputies from five the Regional Councils of five regions with the total population of 27 million people. The regions represented in the delegation are among Italy’s most developed and account for about 70% of the country’s GDP.
- The number of official documents signed during the visit also set a record for Crimea: four agreements of intentions to implement investment projects, a memorandum on cooperation between Simferopol and Padua, and a joint statement by the leaders of the legislatures of Crimea and Veneto.
“This visit turns a new leaf in our relations. As an entity of the Russian Federation, Crimea is ready to offer the members of the delegation all the possible investment opportunities in all the areas our region can provide,” said Sergei Aksyonov, the Head of the Republic of Crimea.
Four Business Projects
The members of the delegation concluded four agreements of intention to implement business projects in Crimea. These agreements involve:
- Construction of residential property together with the Crimean Construction Company (CCC).
- Opening a poultry production unit to produce turkey meat and processed turkey meat foods.
- Construction of a five-star hotel in Simferopol.
- Starting a joint winery.
These agreements of intentions are intended to serve as the basis for contracts to be signed in April 2017, during the 3rd Yalta International Economic Forum.
The names of the Italian companies participating in these projects are currently not released in order to ensure the parties to the agreement favorable conditions for working under sanctions.
Learning about the Business Climate
During meetings with Sergei Aksyonov, the Head of the Republic of Crimea, with Dmitry Ovsyannikov, Acting Governor of Sevastopol, and other officials, Italian politicians and members of the business community received detailed information on the region’s business climate, conditions created for foreign investors, and specifics of the Free Economic Zone established in Crimea.
“Dozens of investment projects were proposed: from constructing yacht marinas to founding vineyards, from instrument engineering to participating in large infrastructure projects. All those proposals were received with great interest,” notes Andrei Nazarov, Co-chairman of the All-Russia Public Organization Delovaya Rossiya.
The members of the delegation also held two meetings with the members of the Sevastopol and the Republic of Crimea business community. Italian entrepreneurs learned specifics of doing business in the region, established bilateral contacts, selected potential business partners. “We’ve come to established business relations with Crimean entrepreneurs in agriculture, food production, wine-making, and industry. I am impressed that there are businesses here established jointly with Italians. I heard that Crimea has a large potential for growing products,” Roberto Penazzi, a prominent wine technology expert, who also acts as a crisis manager in the wine industry and works together with all the leading Italian wine-makers.
The mechanisms for investing in Crimea while it is under sanctions were discussed. The members of the Italian delegation proposed incorporating companies in non-EU countries. Besides, members of the delegation proposed establishing an Italian office of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia and Crimea.
After the visit, Fulvio Scandiuzzi, owner of SCANDIUZZI company, said that he views Crimea as an attractive place to do business. “There are good opportunities to conclude agreements and cooperate with local entrepreneurs,” said the owner of the company that manufactures industrial equipment and fabricated metals and also works in the energy sector. “Besides, I also saw a very beautiful land, I will probably come here for a vacation,” Mr. Scandiuzzi said at the Italian delegation’s concluding press conference in Moscow.
The Twin-city Agreement between Padua and Simferopol
Marina Buffoni, a member of Padua’s Executive Council (in the Veneto Region, pop. 260,000 people), and Victor Ageev, head of the Simferopol city district municipal entity, chairman of the Simferopol City Council, signed a five-year memorandum on cooperation between the cities.
“This memorandum will be a pledge of a five-year friendship. It could serve as a starting point for restoring the economic, cultural, and tourist cooperation between our cities. The first inclusive university in Europe was founded in Padua. Padua has been the city of the freedom of spirit and mind, and I believe that the principles of this freedom will form the foundation for the twin-city relations between Simferopol and Padua. I am personally ready to promote the development of relations in trade, tourism, and manufacturing, and so are other Padua city officials,” Ms. Buffoni said upon the signature of the agreement.
The head of Sevastopol also spoke about their intention to set up a twin-city arrangement with an Italian city. “We are interested in this, and we will work in this direction,” said Dmitry Ovsyannikov, Acting Governor of Sevastopol. According to Andrei Nazarov, Chairman of the Board of the Yalta International Economic Forum Foundation, Sevastopol can offer a twin-city arrangement to the Italian Genoa, the administrative center of the Liguria Region, also represented in the delegation.