Hans Sabaditsch
Consul General of Austria to Italy
Hans Sabaditsch

It is a source of great satisfaction for me to take part in this event, organised in the framework of the "EU-India Economic Cross-Cultural Programme", in which experts from Italy, Austria and India discuss the results achieved in three years of operation, and consider future collaboration.

Austria has emerged as one of Europe's top business locations. In the period 1991-2000, the total outstanding stock of foreign investment in Austria more than doubled to reach a level of close to Euro 30 billion. Austria's position as the pre-eminent business gateway to Central and Eastern Europe, a geographical location in the heart of Europe, EU membership, a thriving high-tech economy, economic and social stability, a highly-qualified and motivated work force as well as low tax and inflation rates represent bottom-line advantages to foreign investors.

In an Italian-Austrian perspective, Austrian exports rose in 1999 by 4.7% to reach a total value of ATS 61.7 billion (Euro 4.48 billion). Purchases by Italy grew by 1.1% to a total value of ATS 68.2 billion (Euro 4.96 billion). The relative weakness of the Italian foreign trade situation has not had a negative influence on the trend for commercial exchanges between the two countries. In 1999, Italian imports registered an overall increase of 4.1% (compared with + 4.7% growth in purchases from Austria), due primarily to the weakness of the Euro and the consequent increase in the cost of electricity. In addition, exports from Italy in 1999 fell by 1.7% overall whereas, as we have seen, exports to Austria registered a modest increase of 1.1%. It should be noted that for the first time, the balance of trade between Italy and Austria showed a surplus for Austria of ATS 1.5 billion (Euro 109 million). The trend is a reversal of previous tendencies, despite the fact that Italian statistics for 1999 registered a balance of trade surplus of Euro 92 million in Italy's favour, markedly lower that the previous year's Euro 261 million surplus.

In the first nine months of 2000, Austrian exports to Italy increased by 20% to reach a total value of ATS 61.2 billion (Euro 4.45 billion). The balance of trade reveals a surplus in Austria's favour of ATS 6.62 billion (Euro 841 million) whereas in the same period of the previous year there was a small deficit, amounting to ATS 360 million (Euro 26.2 million). The positive result in the first nine months of 2000 is associated both to the greater integration of the two economic systems following the adoption of the Euro and to trends in manufacturing industry, which have strongly stimulated demand for semi-finished goods and machinery. Analysis of the basket of products supplied by Austria to Italy in the first nine months of 2000 reveals a substantial increase in the car and motor vehicle sector, which represents one quarter of total exports to Italy and which recorded an increase of 34%. In this sector, motor car exports grew by 60%, which took total value for the subsector to ATS 4.8 billion (Euro 348.8 million). The figure is only slightly lower than that for Italian motor vehicle exports to Austria. In the period under study, the processed products sector was again the most important for Austrian exports to Italy, with an overall value amounting to 27% of the total and an increase of 19.3% over the 1999 figure. In the exchanges, goods are increasingly frequently accompanied by other forms of economic co-operation, such as start-ups, investment in enterprises, joint research and development projects and collaboration in third markets.

Finally, I am firmly convinced that the joint research into hydrogeological problems and the management of water resources will encourage co-operation between the European Union and India.