Italy Offers Eco Expertise

Specialist Italian companies are keen to help Jordan deal with its big energy and environmental challenges.

By Elisa Oddone

Italian Trade Commissioner Alessio Ponz de Leon Pisani said a recent visit by a group of eco-minded Italian firms, aimed to strengthen trade and investment links between his country and Jordan, and help solve the Kingdom’s pressing energy and environmental issues.

What did this visit hope to achieve?

We brought seven Italian SMEs specialized in the use of renewable resources, such as solar and wind, and technology in environmental fields like water treatment and waste management to Jordan to build partnerships. Jordan offers plenty of opportunities for joint ventures in renewable energy and environment-related fields and Italy is eager to expand its presence in the region, especially in Jordan, in these sectors.

How advanced is Italy’s know-how in the alternative energy industry?

Italy is renowned across the region and in international markets for its top-notch technology in the use of renewable resources and environmental fields. However, we should aim to attract more Italian companies to invest in the region. Italy’s businesses are often more interested in exploring larger markets like the ones in China, Brazil, India, and Russia, which promise huge profit opportunities. But these markets, though very alluring, are more difficult to penetrate than smaller ones, which might in turn also offer a good profit potential. Large companies have the know-how and resources to be successful on larger markets, while this may be harder for SMEs.

How big is Italy’s presence in Jordan?

I can proudly say that Italy has been Jordan’s largest trading partner in the European Union for the last three years. The countries’ bilateral trade was worth about $930 million in 2013, with the value of Italian exports to Jordan worth about $877 million. Exports of jewelry, machinery, and precious metals played a major role in establishing this leadership.

Exports from Italy to Jordan have been increasing yearly. However, there is a gap between the presence of Italian products on the Jordanian market and Italian investment in the Kingdom. Italy is generally extremely wary when it comes to investment, especially in this region as the current regional instability has a deterrent effect. The perception that Italian businesses have of Jordan reflects their idea about the whole region. They do not quite understand that Jordan is a safe country and that troubles that lie beyond its borders, namely in Syria and Iraq, are not affecting the Kingdom’s stability.

How would you describe the response of Jordanian companies to partnerships?

There is a large interest on the Jordanian side to establish partnerships with Italian counterparts. This is partly due to the country’s urge for energy diversification after disruptions to cheap Egyptian gas since 2011.

It is of fundamental importance to involve the private sector to trigger a wave of partnerships in renewable energy and environmental-related fields to reach such a goal.

Jordan’s public sector needs the help of the private sector more than ever to develop these kinds of green technologies and projects, especially in the form of BOT or BOOT. The market is also absolutely open in the Kingdom as the country welcomes international companies to work within its territory.