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Italy: Key Issues and Policies

image of Italy: Key Issues and Policies

This review underlines some important points of strength with respect to Italian SMEs and entrepreneurship, notably for medium-sized firms that very often excel in their market niches, have a strong propensity to business collaboration, as well as favourable access to finance. The review also looks at the challenges that lie ahead for Italy, hard hit by the global economic crisis, notably among micro and small firms. Recovery will mean, among other things, removing barriers to business growth, streamlining the complexity of the Italian tax system, and opening the business environment to competition, foreign direct investment and equity financing, as well as improving training and workforce skills.

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Executive summary

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs, i.e. enterprises with less than 250 employees) are the backbone of the Italian economy. They account for 99.9% of its firms, 80% of its employment and 67% of its value added, among the highest proportions in any OECD country, and medium-sized Italian firms (50-249 employees) have high productivity levels by international standards. Italy is also an entrepreneurial economy. Nearly one-half of the population would prefer to be business owners than employed, nearly one-quarter of the workforce is self-employed, and small businesses tend to be young.

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