Deglobalisation and the Mediterranean Sea: what is Italy’s role? | CDP

Deglobalisation and the Mediterranean Sea: what is Italy’s role?

How is globalisation changing? What advantages do non-EU countries bordering the Mediterranean offer to European companies aiming to reorganise production on a regional scale? And what opportunities does this new scenario open up for Italian ports?

The paper discusses how the slowdown in globalisation can be seen in a progressive regionalisation of trade, reviving economic cooperation in the Mediterranean and boosting Italy's relevance as a logistics-port hub between North Africa and continental Europe.

Read the report’s key messages and download the document for further information.

  • For at least 15 years, the globalisation process has been gradually slowing. This has been accompanied by corresponding changes with:
    • the reduction of the weight of international trade in world GDP;
    • the exhaustion of the fragmentation process of global value chains.
  • There are two main reasons for these trends: on one hand, China's ambition to establish itself as an industrial power increasingly less dependent on imported technologies and exports; on the other, the West's rethinking of foreign dependencies in strategic national security chains.
  • In this perspective, the policies of the US and the EU aim to favour selective processes of both re-industrialisation (reshoring) and re-localisation of production chains, focusing on geopolitically reliable partners (friendshoring).
  • These dynamics could fuel a progressive regionalisation of production and trade, which in the European context would allow the strengthening of economic cooperation in the Mediterranean.
  • Indeed, countries on non-European shores can be a viable solution to redefine the configuration of the EU's production chains, taking advantage of:
    • strong specialisation in industrial areas of particular interest to European downstream companies;
    • continuing low labour costs, with average manufacturing wages lower than in China;
    • a significantly strengthened port-logistics infrastructure.
  • However, the opportunities offered by these comparative advantages cannot be separated from careful monitoring of the economic and social instability that plagues North Africa and the Middle East.
  • The reorganisation of trade balances with a Mediterranean perspective is an opportunity for the Italian port sector, which can leverage its undisputed leadership in short sea shipping. To fully exploit Italy's strategic location, however, it is necessary to strengthen the competitiveness of ports by focusing on:
    • streamlining of port services,
    • upgrading of intermodal infrastructure,
    • development of back-port areas and
    • green transformation.
Read the brief (Available in Italian)