Italy’s Top 10 Exports

Italy’s Top 10 Exports


Italy shipped US$506.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017, down by -2.3% since 2013 but up by 9.7% from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Italy’s exported goods plus services represent 31.8% of total Italian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, almost two-thirds (63.7%) of Italian exports by value were delivered to other European countries while 17.1% was sold to Asian importers. Italy ships another 10.9% worth of products to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.9%) and Latin America excluding Mexico plus the Caribbean (2.2%).

Given Italy’s population of 62.1 million people, its total $506.3 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $8,100 for every resident in that European country.

Italy’s unemployment rate was 11.1% as of January 2018, down from 11.9% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.

Italy’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Italian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Italy.

At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Italy’s number one exported product is drugs and medicines followed by motor cars, refined petroleum oils, auto parts or accessories then footwear.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$99.6 billion (19.7% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $43.7 billion (8.6%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $30.1 billion (6%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $25.8 billion (5.1%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $20.9 billion (4.1%)
  6. Articles of iron or steel: $17.5 billion (3.5%)
  7. Mineral fuels including oil: $17.1 billion (3.4%)
  8. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $13.7 billion (2.7%)
  9. Iron, steel: $13.2 billion (2.6%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $12.6 billion (2.5%)

Italy’s top 10 exports accounted for 58.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 43.3% in value from 2016 to 2017 thanks largely to increased international sales of Italy’s refined petroleum oils.

In second place were Italy’s exported iron and steel up 24.9%.

Pharmaceuticals placed third up 21.4% followed by exported vehicles’ 11% gain.

The slowest-growing among the top 10 export categories was unknit and non-crocheted clothing or accessories via its 4.2% uptick.


Overall Italy posted a trade surplus in 2017 amounting to $54.1 billion down by -5% from the $57 billion in black ink during 2016.

The following types of Italian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. In a nutshell, net exports reflect the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$55.3 billion (Up by 7.2% since 2016)
  2. Articles of iron or steel: $11.8 billion (Up by 8.3%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $9.8 billion (Up by 5%)
  4. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $7.7 billion (Up by 10%)
  5. Leather/animal gut articles: $5.7 billion (Up by 18%)
  6. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $5.5 billion (Up by 8.6%)
  7. Footwear: $5.1 billion (Up by 10.5%)
  8. Ceramic products: $4.5 billion (Up by 3.8%)
  9. Ships, boats: $3.9 billion (Down by -4.9%)
  10. Cereal/milk preparations: $3.6 billion (Up by 6.6%)

Italy has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machinery–a product category that includes computers. In turn, these cashflows indicate Italy’s strong competitive advantages in producing machinery for international markets.


Below are exports from Italy that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Italy’s goods trail Italian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$37.1 billion (Up by 25.1% since 2016)
  2. Organic chemicals: -$6.6 billion (Down by -3.7%)
  3. Iron, steel: -$5.8 billion (Up by 53.8%)
  4. Vehicles: -$4.8 billion (Up by 18.4%)
  5. Fish: -$4.7 billion (Up by 6.1%)
  6. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.4 billion (Up by 22.8%)
  7. Copper: -$3.2 billion (Up by 64.2%)
  8. Meat: -$2.6 billion (Up by 10.9%)
  9. Wood: -$2.4 billion (Up by 4.4%)
  10. Cereals: -$2.4 billion (Up by 4.2%)

Italy has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for mineral fuels-related products notably crude oil, petroleum gas, electrical energy and coal.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Italy’s competitive disadvantages in the international energy market, but also represent key opportunities for Italy to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations especially in cleaner alternative energy sources.


Italian Export Companies

Thirty corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Italian companies that Forbes included:

  • Eni (oil, gas)
  • Finmeccanica (aerospace)
  • Parmalat (food processing)
  • Pirelli & C (automotive parts)
  • Prada (clothing, accessories)
  • Prysmian (electrical equipment)
  • Saras (oil, gas)
  • Telecom Italia (telecommunications services)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Italian exporters:

  • Acciaierie Valbruna (stainless steel bars, rods, doors, window frames)
  • Chateau D AX (wood seats, chemicals)
  • Emilceramica (ceramic tiles, building tiles)

Italy’s capital city is Rome.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Italy’s Top Trading Partners, Highest Value Italian Export Products, Italy’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and Italy’s Top 10 Imports

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 22, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 22, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 22, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 22, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Italy. Accessed on March 22, 2018

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 22, 2018

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 28, 2016