2021 has been a challenging year for Italy, during which the government had to face many difficulties related to the COVID-19 health emergency. Most importantly, the new prime minister of Italy is Mario Draghi. During the last few months, a political strategy aimed to support the Italian economy has been implemented and it is predicted to continue its process until the next year.
Review of 2021
With regards to the Islamic world, in Italy, Muslims now make up 2.7 million or 4.9% of the total Italian resident population.
As seen in recent years, Italy showed during 2021 its great interest and inclination to open the field to alternative finance and investments aimed at producing a social and positive impact in the community, such as the investments made by investors through Shariah compliant crowdfunding platforms.
Also in 2021, in line with Italy’s high interest in collaborating with Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, it is worth mentioning that in the last few months many steps were taken, especially with regards to relationships with Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The relationships are based on the growing assumption that Italy represents one of the major trading partners of some of the aforementioned countries and their shared purpose is to provide support to the companies that are involved in sustainable development, green projects and other various fields, in order to increase the competitiveness of trade and export businesses between the countries and to serve mutual interests.
Italy also launched many initiatives to open its doors to Halal tourism after seeing the big opportunity it represents in attracting a new style of tourism by connecting people and cultures. In order to increase the understanding of Halal-related activities and food, Italian universities and research centers are providing education and training programs on the Halal industry.
Preview of 2022
The consistent interest shown in the last few months of 2021 is expected to flow into 2022 and the aim is to build new bridges between Italy and other Muslim countries and to reinforce old relationships so as to gain brand-new opportunities.
It is important to persist in developing this diplomatic approach to exchange points of view and take into consideration each country’s best interests.
After the G20 Summit in Rome which took place in October 2021, new alliances are expected to see the light of day in the near future.
On a national basis, it is now evident how much is needed by the legislator or the government to remove obstacles against the possibilities of Italian issuers and intermediaries offering financial products to Islamic investors.
The hope is to see a development of the presence of Islamic finance in Italy because it is clear, now more than ever, how much the presence of an Islamic bank in Italy would be an advantage for Italian enterprises, which would have the chance to access new and alternative financing opportunities in addition to the ordinary ones already offered in Italy.
New partnerships will pave the way to success on a much larger scale so this represents a unique opportunity for Italy.
Last but not the least, with the rapidly accelerating interest in the environmental, social and governance impact on the global community with the vast involvement of the Islamic finance industry, it is absolute necessary for Italy to look into these issues and take the required action.
Stefano Loconte is the managing partner at Loconte & Partners and an Islamic finance lecturer at LUM – Giuseppe Degennaro University. He can be contacted at [email protected]