Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Italy’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $2.174 trillion in 2015.
Therefore, exports accounted for about 21.1% of total Italian economic output.
From a continental perspective, 62.9% of Italian exports by value are delivered to other European countries while 17.3% are sold to Asian importers. Italy ships another 10.4% worth of products to North America with 4.5% sent to African clients.
Given Italy’s population of 61.9 million people, its total $458.9 billion in 2015 exports translates to roughly $7,420 for every resident in that country.
Italy’s unemployment rate was 11.5% as of January 2016 according to Trading Economics.
Italy’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Italian global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Italy.
- Machines, engines, pumps: US$92.3 billion (20.1% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $38 billion (8.3%)
- Electronic equipment: $27.1 billion (5.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $22 billion (4.8%)
- Plastics: $18.7 billion (4.1%)
- Iron or steel products: $16.8 billion (3.7%)
- Oil: $15.7 billion (3.4%)
- Furniture, lighting, signs: $12.8 billion (2.8%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $12 billion (2.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $11.7 billion (2.5%)
Pharmaceuticals were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 16.2% in value for the 5-year period starting in 2011.
Vehicles was only other category to post increased export sales, up 1% led by cars.
Among the decliners, oil fell in value by -37% from 2011 to 2015 followed by gems and precious metals which depreciated -30.4%. Italy’s exported iron or steel products dropped by -21.2%.
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 is 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.
- Machines, engines, pumps: US$53.3 billion (Down by -10% since 2011)
- Iron or steel products: $11.6 billion (Down by -20.4%)
- Furniture, lighting, signs: $9.3 billion (Down by -8.5%)
- Beverages: $6.7 billion (Up by 5.3%)
- Clothing (not knit or crochet): $4.8 billion (Up by 8.7%)
- Leather, animal gut articles: $4.8 billion (Up by 32.2%)
- Footwear: $4.6 billion (Down by -5.1%)
- Ceramic products: $4.2 billion (Down by -0.5%)
- Cereal, milk preparations: $3.4 billion (Up by 5.2%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $2.7 billion (Up by 5.1%)
Italy has highly positive net exports in the international trade of machines including computers. In turn, these cashflows indicate Italy’s strong competitive advantages under the machinery product category.
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.
- Oil: -US$36.5 billion (Down by -57.1% since 2011)
- Organic chemicals: -$7.4 billion (Down by -31.5%)
- Iron and steel: -$5.8 billion (Down by -28.9%)
- Electronic equipment: -$4 billion (Down by -70.6%)
- Fish: -$3.8 billion (Down by -12%)
- Copper: -$2.8 billion (Down by -45.9%)
- Meat: -$2.7 billion (Down by -30.5%)
- Wood: -$2.3 billion (Down by -36.3%)
- Cereals: -$2.3 billion (Down by -23.1%)
- Animal/vegetable fats and oils: -$2.1 billion (Up by 14.7%)
Italy has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for fossil fuels, particularly crude oil 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 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Italian companies that Forbes included:
- Eni (oil, gas)
- Telecom Italia (telecommunications services)
- Finmeccanica (aerospace)
- Prada (clothing, accessories)
- Pirelli & C (automotive parts)
- Saras (oil, gas)
- Parmalat (food processing)
- Prysmian (electrical equipment)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of Italian exporters:
- Emilceramica (ceramic tiles, building tiles)
- Chateau D AX (wood seats, chemicals)
- Acciaierie Valbruna (stainless steel bars, rods, doors, window frames)
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 Import Partners, Highest Value Italian Export Products, Italy’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and Capital Facts for Rome, Italy
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 28, 2016
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 28, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 28, 2016
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 28, 2016
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 28, 2016