Accredia / Quality Infrastructure / Diffusion and effects of accredited certification among exporting companies

Diffusion and effects of accredited certification among exporting companies

12 May 2021

The urgency of a productivity boost for Italian companies requires tools such as certified management systems under accreditation, which help SMEs to position themselves along global value chains and increase their efficiency.

Compared to a year ago, the economic and social picture has dramatically changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

In dealing with the emergency, however, the European Union has been able to react promptly and intensely enough to cushion its impact, also through a massive economic stimulus from the ECB.

The unprecedented expansionary impulse of the interventions defined in the context of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) for many countries and for ours in particular, will be an opportunity to redesign development based on the priorities that Europe, just before the start of the pandemic, set out for 2019-2024.

In Italy the government has launched substantial interventions to support families and businesses with its economic policies but at this stage it is essential to build virtuous dynamics capable of accommodating the new trends in the world economy intervening in terms of productivity. Of strategic importance in this context is the “Export Pact” promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation created to cope with the exogenous shock of the pandemic and its consequences.

A new industrial policy that takes into account the exporting nature of our economy requires tools, such as accredited certification of management systems, capable of facilitating participation in global value chains and guaranteeing, through an organizational and performance improvement, a boost in competitiveness which is fundamental in this period.

The agreement between Accredia and Istat, signed in November 2018, made it possible for the first time to deepen the link between accredited certification and exporting companies, providing a new element of study of the dynamics of international trade in goods and, given the context, this could be an important factor in the designing stage of the economic policies.

The analysis of data on exporting companies which, at the end of 2018, held a certified management system under accreditation allows us to affirm that accredited certification is a competitive factor for exporting companies, and that the diffusion of this tool facilitates the participation of Italian companies in global value chains.

In total out of 123,000 exporting companies around 19,000 had a certified management system at the end of 2018.

The certified exporting companies export goods worth over 230 billion euro and employ just under 2 million workers. Compared with the total of exporting companies, those in possession of a certified management system under accreditation represent 15%, and 53% with respect to the total number of exporting companies and the total export value.

The diffusion of certifications is increasing with the growth of the company size and reaches over 50% for companies with more than 100 employees.

In general, the average number of countries of destination of goods is higher among certified companies, regardless of company size, and this fact confirms their greater integration in international markets. This gap also appears to be greater among small and medium-sized enterprises than large ones (Figure 1). These results reinforce the belief that accredited certification proves its benefits especially among SMEs.

Figure 1 – Average number of destination countries of sales of manufactured goods exporters by class of employees – 2018

Source: Istat and Accredia data

The comparison by typology of goods exported among certified exporting companies and other exports also confirms a higher share of intermediate goods among the former, equal to over 35% of the total value exported by this category of operators (Figure 2). This is an important confirmation of the role of accredited certification within the GVCs in which Italian companies are widely involved.

Figure 2 – Breakdown of the export values per typology of exported goods – 2018 (% values)

Source: Istat and Accredia data

To conclude, the 2018 data analysis confirms the leading role of accredited certification among exporting companies and the link with participation in value chains, especially in Europe. But accredited certification is also accompanied by greater productivity.

A positive productivity differential for certified exporting companies in the manufacturing sector compared to other exports has been demonstrated. This differential grows as the size of the company decreases, reaching, in the case of micro-enterprises, approximately 22,000 euros (Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Productivity differentials(1) among certified exporting manufacturing companies and other exporters, by class of employees – 2018 (value added per employee; thousands of euro)

Source: Istat and Accredia data

(1) Relationship between added value and employees of the export company.