Italy exported US$611 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2021. That dollar amount is 20.5% than in 2017 when Italy’s exports totaled $507.2 billion and accelerated by 22.6% from $498.4 billion in 2020.
The top 5 importers of products exported from Italy were shipped from Germany, France, United States of America, Switzerland and Spain. Those 5 major customers accounted for 43% of global spending on Italian exported goods during 2021.
Applying a continental lens, about two-thirds (65.5%) of Italy’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 15.1% were sold to importers in Asia. Italy shipped another 11.3% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Africa (3.5%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (2.1%) then Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (1%).
Italy’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Italy’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Italian shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Italian exports.
- Germany: US$79.2 billion (13% of Italy’s total exports)
- France: $62.5 billion (10.2%)
- United States: $58.5 billion (9.6%)
- Switzerland: $32.3 billion (5.3%)
- Spain: $30.3 billion (5%)
- United Kingdom: $27.8 billion (4.5%)
- Belgium: $21.2 billion (3.5%)
- Poland: $19.1 billion (3.1%)
- China: $18.6 billion (3%)
- Netherlands: $17.9 billion (2.9%)
- Austria: $13.5 billion (2.2%)
- Turkey: $11.3 billion (1.8%)
- Romania: $9.7 billion (1.6%)
- Russia: $9.1 billion (1.5%)
- Japan: $8.9 billion (1.5%)
- Czech Republic: $8.3 billion (1.4%)
- Greece: $6.5 billion (1.1%)
- Sweden: $6.4 billion (1%)
- Hungary: $6.35 billion (1%)
- South Korea: $6.2 billion (1%)
- Canada: $5.72 billion (0.9%)
- United Arab Emirates: $5.71 billion (0.9%)
- Hong Kong: $5.7 billion (0.9%)
- Brazil: $5.4 billion (0.9%)
- Slovenia: $5.2 billion (0.9%)
Almost four-fifths (78.8%) of Italian exports in 2021 were delivered to the above 25 trade partners.
Among these top import purchasers, the Netherlands showed the greatest growth in demand for Italian products posting a 37.8% increase from 2020 to 2021.
In second place was Greece (up 31.6%) ahead of importers in Brazil (up 31.1%), United Arab Emirates (up 29.3%) and Turkey (up 28.1%).
Other notable expansions in demand for Italian exports belong to Austria (up 27.6%), Poland (up 27.2%), Spain (up 27.1%) then mainland China (up 26.6%).
Countries Causing Biggest Trade Deficits for Italy
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Italy incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$27 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Netherlands: -$14.8 billion
- Germany: -$10.4 billion
- Russia: -$7.4 billion
- Azerbaijan: -$7.3 billion
- Libya: -$5.2 billion
- Algeria: -$4.5 billion
- Belgium: -$3.7 billion
- India: -$3.22 billion
- Iraq: -$3.2 billion
Among Italy’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Italian deficits with Libya (up 433.6%), Russia (up 230.3%) and Algeria (up 229%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Italy’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Italy to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Countries Generating Biggest Trade Surpluses for Italy
Italy posted an overall $59.5 billion trade surplus in 2021 amounting, down by -17.7% from the $72.3 billion in black ink one year earlier.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Italy incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- United States: US$39.8 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Switzerland: $19.1 billion
- United Kingdom: $18.2 billion
- France: $16.1 billion
- Hong Kong: $5.3 billion
- Poland: $5 billion
- Australia: $4.4 billion
- Canada: $3.67 billion
- Japan: $3.67 billion
- Mexico: $3.3 billion
Among Italy’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Italian surpluses with Mexico (up 34.9%), Canada (up 28.1%) and the United States of America (up 26.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Italy’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Italy to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Major Companies Servicing Italian Import Partners
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)
Based on Wikipedia’s list of Italian companies, the following are also examples of established firms that ship products from Italy to its import partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the Italian business specializes in.
- Alfa Romeo Automobiles SpA (luxury vehicles)
- Campagnolo (bicycle components)
- Eko (guitars)
- Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta (firearms)
- Ferrari SpA (sports cars)
- Ferrero SpA (chocolate confectionery)
- Forst (brewery)
- Luigi Lavazza SpA (whole bean coffee)
- Olivetti SpA (consumer electronics)
See also Italy’s Top 10 Imports, Italy’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Italy’s Top 10 Exports and Germany’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 31, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 31, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 31, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on May 31, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Italy. Accessed on May 31, 2022