Italy flag Italy: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Italy

Foreign Trade in Figures

Italy has an export-oriented economy and is the 8th largest exporter and importer worldwide, with trade making up 55% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). According to the latest figures by ISTAT, large exporting companies (1,996 units with at least 250 employees) accounted for 49.0% of national exports, medium-sized companies (50-249 employees) for 30.6% and small companies (less than 50 employees) for 20.4%. The country’s main exports include medicaments, cars and vehicle parts, refined petroleum, and trunks, suit-cases, vanity-cases. Italy is also the second-largest wine exporter in the world. The country is dependent on imports for its energy needs, hence petroleum and gas products are among the main items in Italy’s import bills, after cars and above medicaments. Among the manufacturing product groups in which Italy holds the largest shares of world merchandise exports in 2020 are: terracotta building materials (24.05%); tanned and processed leather, travel goods, handbags, leather goods and saddlery, prepared and dyed furs (14.55%); bakery and farinaceous products (13.29%); cut, shaped and finished stones (11.28%); tubes, pipes, hollow profiles and related accessories of steel, excluding cast steel (10.69%); leather goods, excluding clothing, and similar (10.56%); tanks, reservoirs, radiators and containers of metal (9.61%) and beverages (9.52% - data by ISTAT).

Italy’s main trading partners are Germany (12.8%), France (10.3%), the U.S. (9.8%), Switzerland (5.8%) and the UK (5.2%). The main countries of origin for Italian imports are Germany (16.3%), China (8.7%), France (8.5%), the Netherlands (5.9%) and Spain (5.3% - data by WTO).

Since the sovereign debt crisis in 2010 and after several years of registering a trade deficit, Italy has changed direction and has recorded positive trade balances in recent years. According to WTO data, in 2020 the country exported goods worth USD 496.16 billion (-7.7% year-on-year), while imports decreased at a faster pace (-11%), totalling USD 422.8 billion. In the same year, Italy exported services for a total value of USD 86.5 billion, while its imports amounted to USD 91.6 billion. The overall trade surplus for goods and services stood at around 3.7% of GDP (from 2.4% one year earlier - World Bank). Looking at the first ten months of 2021, data from ISTAT shows that exports went up 18.6% compared to the same period in 2020, while imports increased by 23.1%.

 
Foreign Trade Values 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 453,122503,240475,006422,875557,524
Exports of Goods (million USD) 507,418549,526537,718496,120610,284
Imports of Services (million USD) 113,272124,609121,60591,618113,497
Exports of Services (million USD) 110,828122,632120,49086,532102,421

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 55.458.660.360.155.3
Trade Balance (million USD) 65,75961,79854,14867,30677,315
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 61,42857,61050,62166,30871,912
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.96.13.4-0.7-12.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.95.42.11.6-13.8
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.027.928.928.425.8
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 29.330.731.431.729.5

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 8.32.93.83.32.7
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 9.93.44.03.63.2

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
Italy is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, European Union, ICC, European Economic Area, WTO, Central European Initiative (CEI), G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, OECD, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Italy click here. International organisation membership of Italy is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Italy can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
Germany 13.1%
France 10.3%
United States 9.5%
Switzerland 5.4%
Spain 5.0%
See More Countries 56.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
Germany 16.1%
France 8.3%
China 8.2%
Netherlands 5.9%
Spain 5.1%
See More Countries 56.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

601.7 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.3%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 2.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 2.6%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles...Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.5%
Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, executive-cases,...Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, executive-cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; travelling-bags, insulated food or beverage bags, toilet bags, rucksacks, handbags, shopping-bags, wallets, purses, map-cases, cigarette-cases, tobacco-pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle-cases, jewellery boxes, powder-boxes, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanised fibre or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper 1.7%
See More Products 86.3%
557.2 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 5.4%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.5%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 4.4%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.1%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and immunological products, whether or not modified or obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 2.1%
See More Products 80.5%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 

Main Services

77.5 bn USD of services exported in 2020
33.75%
25.56%
11.60%
8.25%
6.11%
6.08%
5.46%
1.37%
1.00%
0.41%
0.41%
89.1 bn USD of services imported in 2020
30.99%
20.33%
12.28%
12.02%
7.42%
7.17%
4.59%
3.30%
1.59%
0.25%
0.06%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: November 2022