January 24 – Fort Russ News –
– Manlio di Stefano, spokesman for the 5 Star Movement, translated by Tom Winter
|Beppo GRILLO, chief of Italy’s Five Star Movement|
[Note: In December 2016 Matteo Renzi resigned when his constitutional reform measure was defeated. It was a victory for the 5 Star Movement, its principal opponent. Here, from its leader’s blog, is where this fastest-growing Italian political party is coming from. The statement dates from July, 2015.]
“The US activism in Ukraine and the growing militarization of Eastern Europe, where NATO plays war with the Kremlin, are becoming more intense and fueling a war — cold so far — that soon may become very hot and burning for the whole of Europe. We are against all this, and we will oppose it strongly.”
At a time of serious crisis for the economic and political dignity of our country, the 5 Star Movement has always fought in parliament against the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, measures the Italian government has also contributed to and which weigh heavily on our economy.
We regard Russia as a commercial, economic cultural and historical partner, essential for Europe and for Italy, as well as a key international partner for the resolution of serious international crises.
For this reason we decided to go on a visit to Moscow and Crimea in October, to reiterate our clear NO to sanctions, a clear signal for peace and easing for the construction of new multi-polar world with respect for the peoples sovereignty, and self-determination, and a more just and balanced model of globalization.
A trade war to please the US
In a clumsy attempt to appease Barack Obama, the EU began a damaging trade war with Russia following the crisis in Ukraine, which, which has been suffering civil war since last April between pro-Russian separatists and the regular army for the control of Donbass, the (former) industrial capital of the country, now reduced to little more than a pile of rubble.
In a few days the counter-sanctions enacted by Putin on some European products, in response to the EU’s actions will be a year old. And it is therefore legitimate to ask how much it cost, and how much all this will cost us in the future.
In 2014, according to the Studies and Research Intesa San Paolo, which in March presented the data during a bilateral meeting on trade relations between Italy and Russia, commercial exchange between Italy and Russia declined by 17%, with a loss of € 5.3 billion compared to 2013, and a decrease in our exports by 11.6%, which means a loss of €1.2 billion.
The damage to “Made in Italy”
There are several sectors of “Made in Italy” that have been damaged. We have seen a slump in the textile and clothing sector (-16.4%), as well as the food products targeted by the sanctions (-38%), a trend also confirmed earlier this year. In January, in fact, the Italian sales in Russia fell by 36.7%, while in February there was a -28.5% drop.
“In this brief space we have burned years of work of Italian companies,” said Antonio Fallico, president of Conoscere Eurasia and Banca Intesa Russia – which had achieved an increase of + 327% from 2000 to 2013.”
Also ICE, the Agency for the promotion of Italian Enterprises Abroad, chaired by Riccardo Monti, during the last Forum in St. Petersburg, estimated the damage of this passive acceptance of the sanctions policy toward Moscow. Mechanical (-18%), semi-finished products (-19%), fashion and accessories (-22%), Food (-45%), furniture and construction (-22%), Transport (-59%).
“These sectors account for 85% of what the Russian Federation imports from Italy,” Monti explained last month, “and our country has lost 25% in terms of exports in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014.” Data that is also worrisome for the future, because the outlook is not entirely rosy if the EU does not immediately reverse course.
“The agri-food sector is particularly affected by the Russian sanctions,” Carlo Callenda admitted some time back. Callenda is the Deputy Minister of Economic Development. He was speaking to a meeting of the Industrial Association of Meat and Processed meat products. “In general,”he explained, “we are talking about a loss in total exports of around 3 billion euro out of a total of Italian goods exports of 400 billion.”
Insult added to injury
Besides the economic damage, for Italian companies, there was a double insult. The first is the risk of losing more substantial market share to other economies. Russia, in fact, is not sitting tight in the hope that the Merkel-Juncker duo will let its citizens come back to eating our Parmesan, but it is gradually replacing all products with those from the Eastern markets, such as China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan. Products which of course also include ragu made in Italy, which in recent months has seen a real boom on the shelves of Russian supermarkets.
The second relates to the lock on the Moscow financial sector, which prevents Russian banks operating and guaranteeing payment of Russian buyers against Italian suppliers, with almost unimaginable results.
With the sanctions all of Europe is the loser
We are not alone in suffering the disastrous consequences of all this. Recently, the Austrian Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) reported a study which stresses that the policy of sanctions could cost EU countries some 100 billion Euros and 2 million jobs in a long-term perspective.
In detail the numbers are scary.
Germany alone, according to the Austrian Institute calculations, in the long run could lose 27 billion euro and something like half a million jobs.
Immediately behind is Italy. In the short term (ie the first quarter of this year) we risk sending 80,000 jobs up in smoke and four billion and 140 million euro in value added generated by exports, while in the long run we may lose 200,000 jobs and a added production value of 11.82 billion euro. This dramatic picture does not exclude France, which would rise on the podium of this “special” ranking. Hollande’s country is likely to say goodbye to 150,000 jobs and 0.5% of its productivity.
The subjection of the EU today
Europe is not independent. The United States is dragging the EU into a crusade against Russia, which contradicts the historical interests of our continent. The blind alignment with US policies has created immeasurable harm from an economic point of view and a situation of high geopolitical risk for Europe. The US activism in Ukraine and the growing militarization of Eastern Europe, where NATO plays war with the Kremlin, are becoming more intense and fueling a war — cold so far — that soon may become very hot and burning for the whole of Europe. We are against all this, and we will oppose it strongly.