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Italy's earthquakes hit economy

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Italy's earthquakes hit economy


One of Italy’s most productive and prosperous regions, after the recent series of earthquakes which claimed dozens of lives and ruined ancient and modern buildings, is suffering additional pain in the form of economic losses, every day it takes to get back on its feet.

The northeastern Emilia Romagna region, in the last year for which comprehensive figures are available, 2009, generated 135 billion euros in GDP, according to Eurostat. According to Cofindustria, Italy’s fourth-largest of 20 regions in terms of GDP represents ten percent of the national income.

Emilia Romagna has one company for every ten inhabitants, most small and medium-sized (SMEs), many shaken to a halt be the earthquakes.

Confindustria estimates the daily economic losses due to the quakes is ten million euros.

Profitable biomedical industrial activity accounts for some 100 SMEs, and around 5,000 jobs.

This sector generates in the area of 950 million euros of business annually, of which 40 percent is exports. Damage to the biomed sector alone is calculated at around 900 million euros, according to the paper La Reppublica.

The head of a company making heart valves, supplying hospitals all over Italy, is still in suspense over rebuilding.

Emilio Contini, President of Artech, said: “I don’t know what kind of help they will give us. We cannot ask for charity or expect a lot because there are people who are worse off and have lost their homes. We need a moment to take a breath, and if they (the public administration) could give us some money, as in other parts of Europe, within 90 days instead of in a year’s time, that in itself would be a great help. We still do not know what the banks are going to do.”

At anther company, making parts for medical equipment, the halt in production is having a chain reaction.

Giorgio Mari, Managing Director at Fresenius Hemocare Italia, said: “We are the only supplier of an important component for the Fresenius Group. It has many plants which need the component produced in this area in order to complete the product. This is the reason why the economic impact is very important. We absolutely have to find the way to restart.”

Emilia-Romagna is also highly productive in agriculture, home of the famous Modena vinegar, Parma prosciuto ham and Parmesan cheese.

Agricultural losses so far due to the earthquakes have risen to 500 million euros.

Ten percent of the region’s Parmesan wheels were damaged. That is two years’ of work lost. Employees at a weakened warehouse have been trying to salvage what they can.

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