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Italian bells and exports, a successful story about how to face the economic crisis

Any Italian manufacturer who wants to survive the crisis needs to sell abroad at least 80 percent of its own production

Italian bells and exports, a successful story about how to face the economic crisis

Claudia Astarita

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A few days ago, Bloomberg reported the fascinating story of Pasquale Marinelli, an Italian bell maker who successfully fought the global financial crisis through exports. Mr. Marinelli is the co-owner of the Pontifical Marinelli Foundry, and oldest family business he is currently managing with the help of his brother Armando.

The company is based in Agnone, a small town near Rome. After deciding to face the negative consequences of both global financial crisis and sluggish economy looking abroad, the Italian foundry successfully increased exports to 20 percent of its revenue, four times the proportion a decade ago.

Stressing that "the process of making bronze bells hasn't altered much in the last 1,000 years", Mr. Marinelli highlighted that only thanks to orders coming from abroad the foundry can work all year round.

Mr. Marinelli is obviously proud to remind that his bells hang in the United Nations building in New York, the Vatican and Leaning Tower of Pisa, but he is also happy to be able to stress that his family company is not among the 37,000 that have been forced to close during the last five years.

During an interview with Bloomberg, Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffe, a professor of business strategy at Milan's Bocconi University, emphasized that "any Italian manufacturer who wants to survive the crisis needs to sell abroad at least 80 percent" of its own production. According to his experience, any time Italian companies can achieve that, they also find their way to survive despite the current downturn.

According to recent statistics, more and more Italian companies might have the chance to exploit exports to recover in the coming years, as a slightly but significant economic improvement in Europe will be inevitably into a regional rise of exports. In particular, the Italian statistical office just forecasted an 8 percent increase in exports for this year and next.

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