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Sustainability and Digitisation: SACE’s Key to Support the National Economic System

SACE Group’s Digitalisation Journey

Support and strengthen the competitiveness of the national economic system. This is the purpose of SACE, which, since 1977, has held the role of Italian Export Credit Agency with the mission of supporting Italian companies in their export and internationalization activities and increasing their competitiveness on foreign markets.

Export and Made in Italy, two essential pillars of the Italian economy, are at the heart of SACE’s operations, demonstrating the strategic role that this institution plays for Italian companies and for the country as a whole.

A role was expanded and strengthened in 2020 by a number of legislative measures in response to the global pandemic crisis and allows SACE to go beyond the traditional support to exports and internationalisation, also helping Italian companies on the domestic market, in both the emergency and recovery phases, playing a key role in the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

SACE’s historical function: support for Made in Italy that is increasingly digitised

Nowadays, one speaks of the function in support of exports and internationalisation as traditional, in the light of the recent changes in SACE’s activities following the pandemic. Nevertheless, for more than 40 years, this function has represented the heart of SACE which, in order to cover all the needs related to the export and internationalisation process of Italian companies and to strengthen their competitiveness, has developed a portfolio of products among the most complete and digitised in the ECA panorama.

The wide range of insurance and financial solutions, as well as the attention to the digitisation of its offer, earned SACE the first place in the Global Brand Award for the “Best Trade Credit Insurance Brand – Italy” and “Excellence in Digital Trade Credit Solutions – Italy” categories, an important international recognition within the context of a competition, implemented by Global Brands Publications Limited, which involves the most important brands at the global level.

Indeed, SACE offers a wide range of insurance and financial solutions, such as credit and foreign investment insurance, guarantees on bank loans, bonds for participation in tenders or the award of contracts, protection against construction risks, factoring services and last-resort services such as debt recovery. However, the offer is not limited to insurance and financial services.

In order to further support companies and improve their international reach, various accompanying initiatives have been developed over time, with particular attention to SMEs.

For example, the professional figure of export coaches, who are present throughout the country mainly involved in supporting SMEs and combine digital and export skills , has been introduced.

Moreover, SACE Education, the free training hub, has been set up, allowing companies to acquire and deepen knowledge on exports but also on sustainability, digitisation and risk management.

Last but not least, the Push Strategy: an innovative programme through which SACE provides large foreign buyers with important credit lines, with the aim of developing the procurement of Italian companies, including through business matching meetings, in order to improve their positioning in global supply chains.

New function: support the liquidity of Italian companies affected by the pandemic

2020 was undoubtedly a complex year, both health-wise as well as economically, due to the difficulties generated by the pandemic crisis.

And, precisely in response to the crisis generated by the pandemic, during 2020, the Italian Government strengthened SACE’s mandate, expanding it beyond its traditional support to exports and internationalisation. This gave SACE the task of supporting Italian companies also on the domestic market, with the aim of sustaining their liquidity during the emergency phase of the Pandemic, through the Garanzia Italia (Italy Guarantee) tool and through the guarantee to short-term commercial credit insurance companies.

New function: SACE for Italy’s green transition

In addition to the emergency commitment to support business liquidity, the Italian Government has added a decisive role for Italy’s green transition, entrusting SACE with a new function linked to the implementation of the Green New Deal.

Indeed, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has entrusted SACE with the task of issuing guarantees on domestic projects able to facilitate the transition of the national economic system towards an economy with a lower environmental impact, integrating production cycles with low-emission technologies for the production of sustainable goods and services, and promoting initiatives aimed at developing a new mobility with lower polluting emissions.

Furthermore, SACE’s role in the green sector is reflected in the attention it pays to sustainability, demonstrated by the many measures implemented by the company to reduce its environmental impact and to improve the assessment of projects submitted.

Adding to the path undertaken by SACE in its ecological transition strategy, since May 2021 there are also the introduction of the Climate Change Policy, a set of measures, in line with industry best practices, to improve the contribution of business activities to the reduction of climate-changing emissions, and the recent adoption of the Poseidon Principles, the first agreement in the world between financial institutions on climate alignment, addressed to the maritime sector.

Further proof of SACE’s sensitivity to this issue is the decision to carry out, on a voluntary basis, the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria assessment of risk counterparties in transactions subject to Board approval (with the exception of project finance and sovereign risk transactions). The ESG criteria are very important for SACE, which has a global idea of sustainability, not only aimed at reducing environmental impact, but also linked to social impact, as demonstrated by the strong attention paid to Diversity & Inclusion.

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