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Italian companies want to return to Russia – industry group

Exports to the sanctioned country have dropped 35% since last year, the head of a business association says

A number of Italian corporations that were forced to leave the Russian market due to Western sanctions would like to return, the president of the Association of Italian Entrepreneurs in Russia (GIM Unimpresa) said on Thursday.

Vittorio Torrembini told the Izvestia news outlet that Italy’s exports to Russia have dropped by around 35% since February 2022, when the US, EU, and their allies imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

“I have repeatedly said that the Russian market is very important for Italian companies, and not only for them,” Torrembini said. He added that investments in Russia “cannot be tossed to the wind.” 

Torrembini noted that ten companies that mainly operated in the oil and gas sector had announced the suspension of their activities in Russia after it launched its military operation in Ukraine.

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“Moreover, state-owned company Enel, which is engaged in the production of electricity, was sold for a very low price, as well as Leonardo, which works in the defense sector,” he said, describing these steps as “irrevocable.”

The business official added that almost all the Italian companies that left the Russian market have expressed a desire to return. 

“In particular, Maire Tecnimont and Saipem, which used to work in the energy sector and had contracts worth billions of euros. I don’t think that the shareholders of these companies do not want to return,” Torrembini claimed.

The head of GIM Unimpresa noted last October that Italian giants such as Pirelli, Barilla, and Ferrero had decided to continue operating in Russia. Earlier this year, Torrembini said that 110 companies from Italy were still running production capacities in the sanctions-hit country, while 150 members of GIM Unimpresa have maintained their presence in Russia.

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