Editorial - Archive

We need our factories back

Renzo Servadei

The first cause for alarm came from the availability of surgical masks, at first almost impossible to find. They were necessary for obvious reasons, but no one had been producing them for a long time, and those coming from the Far East did not always have the necessary requirements or were the subject of speculations. Then vaccines. Despite the presence of an important domestic pharmaceutical industry, we depend on imports with all that this entails in terms of availability. Someone will object that these are sectors closely linked to an event of an exceptional nature, one that has not occurred since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Not quite. The fact that all microchip producers have now moved to Asian countries has led to a slowdown in supplies, and several automobile factories were forced to halt production due to delays or even a total lack of supplies during the pandemic. And what about bicycles? Italy has a long and solid manufacturing tradition, but even in this case, dependence on foreign imports have made it extremely difficult to find, for example, an e-Bike. Now let us talk about tires. Italy and Europe have always been hotbeds of technology, research on materials and machinery, with companies that have taught many countries around the world how to make tires. Those who possess older issues of Pneurama know what we are talking about. Today, production volumes are becoming increasingly smaller. Mind you, no one is advocating protective walls against globalization, and it seems rather logical that investments should be directed towards areas that are more profitable. However, these evaluations should include industrial policies implemented by governments and regions, together with training centres and trade unions. Italy is still the second largest manufacturing country in Europe after Germany and in a number of hi-tech and hi-visibility sectors, we are the undisputed leaders, for example in sports and luxury cars and motorcycles. Even in smaller satellite sectors, such as tire service equipment, Italy takes the lion's share with national companies and prestigious foreign players producing their equipment here in Italy. Probably, at a time of great environmental awareness and European Green Deal initiatives that will certainly require heavy investments in research and development, Italy or at least Europe should hold on to its production capacity, its expertise and ability to do research which, with a little support, could generate employment opportunities, future prospects and protect us from choices made by others. As wise master Yoda from the Star Wars saga says: "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try".

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