Italy’s Top 10 Exports

Italy’s Top 10 Exports


Formally the Italian Republic, Italy shipped US$546.9 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 3.2% improvement since 2014 and an 8.7% gain from 2017 to 2018.

From a continental perspective, almost two-thirds (64.6%) of Italian exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 16% was sold to importers in Asia. Italy ships another 11% worth of products to North America. Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.9%), Latin America (2.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (1%) led by Australia.

Given Italy’s population of 62.2 million people, its total $546.9 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $8,800 for every resident in the south European nation.

In macroeconomic terms, Italy’s total exported goods represent 22.8% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($2.397 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 22.8% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 25.4% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Italy’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Italy also provided $121.6 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 5.1% of GDP in PPP.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Italy’s unemployment rate was 10.2% at April 2019, down from 10.6% 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 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Italy.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$106.4 billion (19.5% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $45.1 billion (8.2%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: $33.9 billion (6.2%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: $27.7 billion (5.1%)
  5. Plastics, plastic articles: $22.6 billion (4.1%)
  6. Mineral fuels including oil: $20.3 billion (3.7%)
  7. Articles of iron or steel: $19.6 billion (3.6%)
  8. Iron, steel: $15.1 billion (2.8%)
  9. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $14.6 billion (2.7%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $13.7 billion (2.5%)

Italy’s top 10 exports accounted for 58.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 25% in value from 2017 to 2018. That was thanks largely to increased international sales of Italy’s refined petroleum oils.

In second place were Italy’s exported iron and steel metals, up 14%.

Electrical machinery and equipment placed third up 12.4%. trailed by the 11.8% gain for exported items made from iron or steel.

The slowest-growing among the top 10 export categories was for vehicles via its 3.1% uptick.

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Italy’s Most Valuable Export Products below.


Overall Italy posted a trade surplus in 2018 amounting to $45.8 billion, down by -11.2% from the $51.6 billion in black ink one year earlier.

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$58.1 billion (Up by 5.3% since 2017)
  2. Articles of iron or steel: $12.7 billion (Up by 8%)
  3. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $10.3 billion (Up by 5.9%)
  4. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: $8.4 billion (Up by 9.5%)
  5. Leather/animal gut articles: $6.3 billion (Up by 11.5%)
  6. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $5.5 billion (Up by 0.9%)
  7. Footwear: $5.1 billion (Up by 0.4%)
  8. Ceramic products: $4.6 billion (Up by 2%)
  9. Cereal/milk preparations: $3.9 billion (Up by 9%)
  10. Ships, boats: $3.6 billion (Down by -2.8%)

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-$47.2 billion (Up by 24.4% since 2017)
  2. Organic chemicals: -$8.1 billion (Up by 17.9%)
  3. Iron, steel: -$7.4 billion (Up by 37.6%)
  4. Vehicles: -$6 billion (Up by 21.5%)
  5. Fish: -$5 billion (Up by 6.6%)
  6. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$3.8 billion (Down by -14.7%)
  7. Copper: -$3.3 billion (Up by 1.4%)
  8. Wood: -$2.7 billion (Up by 12.7%)
  9. Meat: -$2.7 billion (Up by 1.9%)
  10. Cereals: -$2.6 billion (Up by 11.2%)

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

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)


Searchable List of Italy’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Italy’s top export products are drugs and medicines, cars and refined petroleum oils followed by automobile parts or accessories then leather footwear.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Italy during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankItaly's Export Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Medication mixes in dosage$19.4 billion+5.9%
2Cars$16.9 billion-6.3%
3Processed petroleum oils$16.8 billion+15.6%
4Automobile parts/accessories$15.3 billion+12.2%
5Cases, handbags, wallets$8.6 billion+15.4%
6Taps, valves, similar appliances$8.2 billion+8.2%
7Footwear (leather)$8.1 billion+5.2%
8Miscellaneous furniture$7.8 billion+8%
9Blood fractions (including antisera)$7.4 billion+15.9%
10Wine $7.3 billion+8.2%
11Jewelry$7.1 billion+1.4%
12Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $7 billion+9.6%
13Miscellaneous machinery$5.9 billion+7.4%
14Trucks$5.6 billion+5.7%
15Unglazed ceramic flags, tiles$4.7 billion+1.7%
16Liquid pumps and elevators$4.5 billion+6.2%
17Temperature-change machines$4 billion-2.1%
18Air or vacuum pumps$4 billion-8.9%
19Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$3.9 billion+9.5%
20Miscellaneous iron or steel items$3.8 billion+15.2%
21Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$3.8 billion+7%
22Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$3.6 billion+12%
23Insulated wire/cable$3.6 billion+10.1%
24Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$3.5 billion+5.6%
25Turbo-jets$3.5 billion-9.4%
26Machinery parts$3.5 billion+13.2%
27Phone system devices including smartphones$3.4 billion+24.6%
28Refrigerators, freezers$3.4 billion+9.5%
29Miscellaneous plastic items$3.3 billion+9.9%
30Cheese, curd$3.3 billion+9.7%
31Aircraft parts$3.2 billion+3.8%
32Cruise/cargo ships, barges$3.2 billion+16.2%
33Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$3.2 billion+13.7%
34Other animal leather$3.1 billion+2.9%
35Spectacles, goggles$3 billion+5.3%
36Lower-voltage switches, fuses$2.9 billion+4.8%
37Pasta, couscous$2.9 billion+8.8%
38Engines (diesel)$2.9 billion+8.4%
39Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$2.8 billion+1.3%
40Electric water heaters, hair dryers$2.8 billion+9.5%
41Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$2.6 billion+7.8%
42Piston engine parts$2.5 billion+3.2%
43Electrical converters/power units$2.5 billion+13.4%
44Rubber/plastic article making machines$2.5 billion+4%
45Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$2.4 billion+9.6%
46Electric motors, generators$2.4 billion+18.2%
47Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$2.3 billion+3.4%
48Lifting/loading machinery$2.3 billion+5%
49Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$2.3 billion+2.5%
50Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$2.3 billion+9.8%
51Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)$2.3 billion+7%
52Gold (unwrought)$2.3 billion+7.5%
53Industrial preparation machinery$2.2 billion+10.6%
54Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$2.2 billion+15.6%
55Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$2.1 billion+9.7%
56Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$2.1 billion+4.2%
57Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$2 billion+3.4%
58Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$2 billion+8.8%
59Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$2 billion+4.6%
60Computers, optical readers$1.9 billion-2.9%
61Iron or steel pipe fittings$1.9 billion+14.1%
62Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.8 billion+17.1%
63Aircraft, spacecraft$1.8 billion+32.8%
64Air conditioners$1.8 billion+8.2%
65Tomatoes (prepared/preserved)$1.8 billion+8.2%
66Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$1.8 billion+3.7%
67Platinum (unwrought)$1.8 billion+9.5%
68Miscellaneous aluminum items$1.8 billion+8.8%
69Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$1.8 billion+21.6%
70Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$1.7 billion+14.8%
71Footwear (textile)$1.7 billion+29%
72Coffee$1.7 billion+4.4%
73Rubber tires (new)$1.7 billion+12.7%
74T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$1.7 billion+13.6%
75Moulding boxes/base$1.7 billion+2.1%
76Base metal mountings, fittings$1.7 billion+3.2%
77Other machine parts, accessories$1.7 billion+7.9%
78Monument/building stones, art$1.7 billion+0.6%
79Ball, roller bearings$1.7 billion+13.3%
80Tractors$1.6 billion-3.6%
81Olive oil$1.6 billion-0.3%
82Flat-rolled stainless steel items$1.6 billion+10.4%
83Sort/screen/washing machinery$1.6 billion+10.1%
84Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$1.6 billion+7.4%
85Fork-lift trucks$1.6 billion+18.8%
86Other organic cleaning preparations$1.6 billion+14.9%
87Motorcycles$1.6 billion+8.3%
88Integrated circuits/microassemblies$1.5 billion+15.2%
89Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$1.5 billion+9.6%
90Other measuring/testing machines$1.5 billion+9.6%
91Nail/staple/glue machines$1.5 billion+10.8%
92Machine-tool for metal$1.5 billion+15.8%
93Men's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$1.4 billion+23.4%
94Derricks, cranes$1.4 billion+14.5%
95Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$1.4 billion+10.2%
96Other food preparations$1.4 billion+15.2%
97Coated paper$1.4 billion+1.5%
98Paper containers, cellulose wadding$1.4 billion+11.9%
99Spectacle/goggle frames, mountings$1.3 billion+5%
100Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$1.3 billion+14.7%
101Perfumes, toilet waters$1.3 billion+10%
102Iron or steel tubes, pipes$1.3 billion+30.8%
103Harvest/threshing machinery$1.3 billion+9.4%
104Leather clothing, accessories$1.3 billion+9.3%
105Coated/laminated non-wovens$1.3 billion+7.2%
106Printing machinery$1.3 billion-2.1%
107Vulcanized rubber items$1.3 billion+13%
108Piston engines$1.3 billion+35.4%
109Paper/paperboard machinery$1.2 billion+16.2%
110Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$1.2 billion+13.2%
111Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1.2 billion+7.7%
112Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$1.2 billion+3.7%
113Motorcycle parts/accessories$1.2 billion+1.5%
114Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$1.1 billion+14.6%
115Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$1.1 billion+29.9%
116Stainless steel bars, rods$1.1 billion+14.6%
117Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$1.1 billion+4.3%
118Special purpose vehicles$1.1 billion+15.6%
119Footwear (rubber or plastic)$1.1 billion+12.6%
120Interchangeable hand/machine tools$1.1 billion+5.3%
121Hair preparations$1.1 billion+9.8%
122Chemical industry products/residuals$1.1 billion+13.1%
123Salted/dried/smoked meat$1.1 billion+5.5%
124Sports equipment$1.1 billion+12.2%
125Combed wool/fine animal hair fabrics$1.1 billion+7.3%
126Central heating boilers$1.1 billion+12.9%
127Aluminum bars/rods$1 billion+17.1%
128Iron and steel stoves, barbecues$1 billion+5.3%
129Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$1 billion+1.7%
130Apples, pears (fresh)$1 billion-11.4%
131Cellulose fiber paper$1 billion+9.6%
132Electric motor parts$1 billion+2%
133Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$966.5 million+15.8%
134Propylene/olefin polymers$959.7 million+10.5%
135Tracksuits, swimwear (not knit or crochet)$951.4 million+10.7%
136Antibiotics$940.2 million+20.9%
137Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$929.1 million+4.6%
138Stone/ceramic working machine-tools$914.9 million-2.7%
139Aluminum (unwrought)$911.4 million+11.6%
140Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$907.8 million+14.1%
141Ethylene polymers$895.4 million+4.2%
142Insoles, heel cushions$887.4 million+1.7%
143Bottles, flasks, jars, pots$878 million+12.9%
144Electric storage batteries$876.5 million+1.1%
145Agriculture/forestry machinery$875.1 million+7.5%
146Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$872.9 million-0.5%
147Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)$869.6 million+2.7%
148Polyamides$859.6 million+16.5%
149Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$855.1 million+15.6%
150Amino-resins$841.5 million+9%
151Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$831.2 million+1.3%
152Acyclic hydrocarbons$831 million+30.4%
153Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$830.6 million+10.7%
154Synthetic filament yarn$811.8 million+4.9%
155Yarn wash/clean/iron machines$800.1 million+4.2%
156Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$797.3 million+5.4%
157Orthopedic appliances$791.8 million+4.7%
158Washing machines$788.3 million+9.4%
159Metal-rolling mills$786.4 million+24.4%
160Miscellaneous live plants$782.8 million+12.2%
161Grapes (fresh or dried)$780.7 million-9.4%
162Alloy steel bars, rods$772.8 million+32%
163Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$759.5 million+13.2%
164Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$734.7 million+47.4%
165Garments from special fabric (not knit or crochet)$729.7 million-2.2%
166Industrial/lab furnaces, ovens$702.4 million-0.4%
167Bridge structures, parts$694 million+25.3%
168Pipe/chewing/snuff tobaccos$693.3 million-7%
169Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$688.7 million+10.7%
170Miscellaneous engines, motors$688.3 million+31.3%
171Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)$686.1 million+1.5%
172Miscellaneous garments (knit or crochet)$686 million+13.3%
173Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$685.6 million+5.7%
174Copper tube/pipe fittings$681.4 million+11.1%
175Mineral, aerated waters$681.1 million+14.3%
176Trailers$680.1 million+12.2%
177Safety glass$679.3 million+5.4%
178Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$674.3 million+18.4%
179Regulate/control instruments$668.2 million+11.7%
180Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables$667.7 million+5.3%
181Coiled iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$664.7 million+30.2%
182Electric generating sets, converters$661.3 million+15.6%
183Stoppers, caps, lids, crown corks$659.4 million+6.9%
184Agriculture/forestry/poultry/bee machinery$657.1 million+12.7%
185Copper bars, rods$657.1 million+2.4%
186Personal toilet/shaving preparations, deodorants$648.4 million+1.1%
187Vinyl chloride polymers$646.6 million+8.9%
188Fruit and vegetable juices$634.8 million+15.9%
189Other prepared/preserved vegetables (non-frozen)$621.5 million+11.9%
190Microphones/headphones/amps$620.1 million+37.6%
191Copper waste, scrap$619.6 million-2.7%
192Electric ignition/start equipment$619.4 million+20.9%
193Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$618.3 million+7.1%
194Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$617.8 million+9.8%
195Rice$615.2 million+2.9%
196Textile fabrics with plastics$612 million+11.4%
197Pulley tackle, hoists$608.6 million+5.9%
198Shawls, scarves$601.6 million+14.5%
199Vulcanized rubber tubes, pipes$601 million+3.1%
200Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)$599.4 million-3.2%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$423.1 billion or over two-thirds (77.4%) by value for all products exported from Italy during 2018.

Italy’s capital city is Rome.

See also Italy’s Top Trading Partners, Italy’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and Italy’s Top 10 Imports

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 21, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 28, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 21, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 28, 2019

Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 28, 2019

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Italy. Accessed on March 21, 2019

Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 28, 2019

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