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Italy’s business environment, while not void of risk, presents many interesting opportunities. Italy has a diversified industrial economy which is divided into a developed industrial north and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south. Italy has a smaller number of global multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size. Rather, there is a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises, clustered in several industrial districts which are the backbone of Italian industry. This manufacturing sector has wisely focused on the export of niche market and luxury products, which helps shelter Italian industry from competition with the lower labour costs of emerging Asian economies. Impediments and challenges to Italian business enterprise include an underground economy, which by some estimates, accounts for as much as 15% of GDP. Also, exceptionally high public debt burdens and resulting austerity measures have created structural impediments to growth for the foreseeable future.

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