flag Italy Italy: Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

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 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 404,445453,122503,240475,006422,875
Exports of Goods (million USD) 461,524507,418549,526537,718496,120
Imports of Services (million USD) 103,990113,272124,609121,60591,618
Exports of Services (million USD) 101,402110,828122,632120,49086,532

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 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 12.99.44.73.13.0
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 13.510.25.23.73.4

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2020
Germany 12.8%
France 10.3%
United States 9.8%
Switzerland 5.8%
United Kingdom 5.2%
See More Countries 56.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2020
Germany 16.3%
China 8.7%
France 8.5%
Netherlands 5.9%
Spain 5.3%
See More Countries 55.3%

Source: Comtrade, last available data

 

Main Products

496.0 bn USD of products exported in 2020
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) 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) 3.0%
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%
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 1.7%
Trunks, suit-cases, vanity-cases, executive-cases,...Trunks, suit-cases, vanity-cases, executive-cases, brief-cases, 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 1.6%
See More Products 85.8%
422.7 bn USD of products imported in 2020
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) 5.4%
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) 4.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 3.8%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.6%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 2.3%
See More Products 81.5%

Source: Comtrade, last available data

 
 

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

 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Euro (EUR)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the euro is a major currency.
Exchange Rate on :

 
 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
American Dollar (USD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 EUR 1.061.131.181.121.14

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

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Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
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.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods coming into one of the 27 countries of the European Union from another country in the Community are exempt from Customs duties and Customs formalities.
The documents which must accompany goods moving between EU countries are the following: :
- the commercial invoice
- the certificate of origin
- the health certificate (only necessary, in the case of trade inside the Community, for live animals)
- the single administrative document (SAD) (required for trade with overseas Departments, the Channel Islands and the Canaries).

For a transaction outside the Community, you must add:
- Import licenses
- Certifications
- Single Customs Document (SAD)

To go further, check out our service Shipping Documents.

Free Zones
Italy has two free-trade ports: Trieste and Venice.

Trieste is the main free trade zone in Italy. Here, goods can stay 180 days without customs duties. Venice is another free trade zone but is restructuring. There is legislation to create free trade zones in Naples and Genoa but it has not been implemented yet.

For Further Information
Italian Customs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of the Economy
Ministry of Economic Development
Non Tariff Barriers
As it is a member of the European Union, Italy applies any and all Community regulations which are valid throughout the Union.

If the EU has quite a liberal foreign trade policy, there are a certain number of restrictions, especially at the level of agricultural products, ensuing from the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): applying compensations when importing and exporting agricultural products to favor the development of agriculture within the EU implies a certain number of systems to control and regulate goods entering EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, with regards to Genetically Modified Organisms, if they are allowed in Europe, their presence must, for example, be systematically specified on packaging. Importing beef fed on hormones is also prohibited.
The principle of precaution is now more widely favored: in case of doubt, import is prohibited until the non- noxiousness of the goods is proved.

Goods containing animal products require a certificate from a competent authority in the country of origin. Fishery products need to show a catch certificate.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Wine, pasta, vegetables and fruit, fresh or processed.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Webpages of the WTO on Italy
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the United States
Information on agricultural trade barriers
Customs and Taxation Union Directorate (TAXUD), Site of the European Commission about the Customs and Taxation Union Directorate
Electronic Customs Initiative, Site of the European Commission about the Electronic Customs Initiative

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Standards

National Standards Organisations
Italian Standardisation Organisation (Ente Nazionale Italiano di Unificazione, UNI)
Italian Electrotechnical Committee (CEI)
Integration in the International Standards Network
International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)
European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC)
Obligation to Use Standards
Yes
Classification of Standards
Italian standards are called UNI, but those of the electrotechnical sector are called CEI.
Assessment of the System of Standardization
The standardization system is respected and guarantees better sales. Consumers have more and more regard for standards.

Regarding EU regulation, manufactures must fulfill conformity assessment conditions.

Online Consultation of Standards
The UNI catalog
The CEI catalog
The ISO catalog
Certification Organisations
Association of Independent Test and Certification Laboratories (ALPI)
Italian Accreditation Body (Accredia)

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Latest Update: June 2022