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THE ITALIAN AEROSPACE INDUSTRY MAKES ITS FIRST APPEARANCE AT IDEF
The Italian aerospace and defence industry is preparing to make its debut, under the umbrella of the Italian Trade Commission, at the Turkish IDEF fair 2009, taking place in Istanbul from April 27th to 30th. This is the first time that ICE, the Italian Trade Commission, has included this initiative in its promotional programme. Only small- to medium-sized businesses will participate in ICE's joint initiative, which has been organized in collaboration with AIAD, the trade association for the sector. These companies will exhibit alongside the stands of the large Italian industrial groups under that colossus in the sector, Finmeccanica.
IDEF is the only fair in the Balkans dedicated to the aeronautical, aerospace and defence industries. It is now being staged for the ninth time, and has acquired the reputation for being an ideal meeting-place for European producers and Asian buyers. The exhibition is a biennial event, covering all the sectors and services connected to the aerospace and defence industries: helicopters, avionics, space exploration technology, as well as new developments in the field of aircraft safety. The fair is therefore of strategic importance to manufacturers in this sector, even more so because it is hosted by a country (a member of NATO) which is investing heavily in defence, and which is involved in important international research and development projects in the aeronautical sector.
Five hundred companies participated in the last edition of IDEF, representing 49 different countries, including the United States, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Canada. Trade visitors touched 41,000, and there were 264 official delegations from 47 different countries. The Turkish exhibition, strongly supported by the national government and the Ministry of Defence, is organised by the Tuyap Fairs and Exhibitions Organization.
Italian participation in IDEF 2009 will therefore be focusing on the promotion of small- and medium-sized businesses, the real backbone of a sector representing about 1.1% of the Italian GDP, accounting for hundreds of businesses and employing about 50,000 workers. Alongside some of the large industrial groups, in many cases leaders in their own particular niche market, there are hundreds of SMEs in operation. They are distributed all over Italy but they are principally concentrated in the industrial hubs which have grown up around the large companies. According to estimates by AIAD, there are at least 500 Italian businesses acting as sub-providers for the aeronautical, aerospace and defence sectors.
The Italian business community, large and diffuse as it is, sometimes has to face the problems often encountered by SMEs: qualifications not in line with set standards and an inability to exploit the opportunities offered by international agreements and cooperation. However, with the precise intention of making Italian manufacturing more competitive both at home and abroad, the trade association concerned is adopting concrete strategies to enhance the profile of small- and medium-sized businesses operating in the sector. There are solid examples of this: AIAD promoted action on combined marketing with the intention of promoting SME certification of the SMEs in line with international standards (AS/EN 9100). At the same time, AIAD intends to actively encourage all initiatives designed to strengthen relationships and produce a more synergic approach amongst the entrepreneurs working in the sector, so as to allow these SMEs to have more access to international business opportunities.