Remarks by Sarah C. Morrison
U.S. Consul General
It’s a great pleasure for me to be here today for the launching of the new Tuscany chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy — what we call “AmCham.” First of all, please let me thank our host President Simone Bettini, Assessore Gianfranco Simoncini, Assessore Sara Biagiotti, and Simone Crolla, AmCham’s managing director, for their participation and support. My thanks also to Lorenzo Parrini, who has accepted the responsibility to guide this regional chapter of the organization, and to whom go my best wishes for a very successful mandate. The U.S. Government works hand-in-hand with AmChams around the world to advocate for policies conducive to entrepreneurship and economic growth. We are enthusiastic about the decision to reinvigorate the Tuscany chapter. Undoubtedly, the Tuscany chapter will increase AmCham’s visibility in this most wonderful of places. In line with a long tradition of AmCham advocacy, it can provide more opportunities for exchanges among Italian and American commercial interests in order to improve conditions for growth — growth both through new investments and through encouragement and intellectual property protections for those which already exist. A top priority of my government is sustainable recovery from the global economic downturn. Global security can only be obtained and maintained upon the back of economic security for all people, a security that will result in jobs for a nation’s residents of all ages, a good education for all children to face future challenges, and a healthy population from infancy through old age. Key to sustainable economic recovery will be continued close policy coordination and collaboration between main economic partners — in our case, between the U.S. and Italy. There must be adoption of fundamental reforms that promote economic flexibility and the free flow of investment, goods, and services around the world. We believe that a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement would be a positive mechanism for growth for us both.
I know that AmCham will work to improve the conditions that will make Italy more attractive to investment, including U.S. investment. There are many other ways AmCham can contribute to growth. One is by advocating for and encouraging more commercial support of university research, supporting investment in startup companies, and through our Business Exchange and Student Training program, “BEST,” that sends exceptional young Italian entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley for additional study and hands-on experience in management. In order for innovation and entrepreneurship to truly flourish, governments must foster an ecosystem that encourages open information exchange and the freedom to collaborate across not only companies, but also borders. Even in the midst of an economic crisis there are burgeoning opportunities for cooperation, innovation, and even revolution in emerging sectors like energy, the environment, and the digital economy. Thanks to a forward looking regional government, Tuscany is engaged in some of these bi-national business and research ventures, which we hope will grow exponentially. I encourage AmCham members to be on the lookout for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and bring them to our attention. No aspect of U.S. business culture is more important to the AmCham’s core mission than cultivating new entrepreneurial talent conversant and comfortable with new, global, ways of doing business. AmCham members can encourage local entrepreneurs by demonstrating yourselves the advantages of what some call the “American way” of doing business. Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in Italy is at the heart of this. Innovation requires the protection of new ideas and processes, and I know that many AmCham companies are intellectual property rights holders — from those in the music industry, to those who create new business software, to the “Made in Italy” brand. Though Italy has strong IPR protection laws on the books, enforcement of these laws is still weak, and IP industry losses in Italy are far too high. The AmCham should be at the forefront of this battle, and know that the U.S. Mission to Italy will assist you where we can.
We in the Consulate look forward to working closely with all of you to address these issues and other projects that you will develop in the months ahead. We need the American Chamber of Commerce to be a strong voice for improving the climate for business in Italy, and this region. I hope that those of you who are not members will seriously consider joining AmCham in this effort. Thank you, and best wishes for your challenging mission.
– Sarah C. Morrison
U.S. Consul General