Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 11/7/2018

Market Overview

• Italy is the world’s 8th largest economy with a GDP of $1.9 trillion in 2017. Although Italy emerged from recession in the first quarter of 2015, Italian GDP remains 5 percentage points below its pre-crisis peak. Italy’s GDP grew by 1.6% in 2017 and is projected to grow by 1.5% in 2018.

• In 2017 Italy was the 19th largest market for U.S. exports, which totaled approximately $18.3 billion, and the 6th largest export market in the EU, following Germany, the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and France. However, export values to the Netherlands (Rotterdam) and Belgium (Antwerp) are skewed by the ‘Rotterdam Effect’ where goods are valued at the port of entry, but then distributed throughout the EU.

• U.S. exports to Italy are concentrated in high-value sectors such as pharmaceutical products (17%), nuclear reactors and machinery (12%), and aircraft (7%).

• The United States remained by far Italy’s largest non-EU export market with roughly a 9% share of all non-EU exports. In 2017, the United States was Italy’s third largest destination for exports, with U.S. imports from Italy totaling $50.0 billion, following Germany and France. The U.S. had a goods trade deficit with Italy valued at $31.6 billion in 2016.

• In 2016 Italian foreign direct investment in the U.S. totaled $48.6 billion, supporting 75,300 American jobs. Top industry sectors for Italian FDI include industrial machinery, automotive components, metals, software and IT services, consumer products and alternative energy.

• Italy’s cumulative inward FDI investment is well below the EU average due largely to structural problems, which affect domestic as well as foreign investment. U.S. direct investment in Italy totaled $24.6 billion in 2016, ranking Italy 8th in Europe, less than half of U.S. investment in France and one-fourth the size of U.S. FDI in Germany. U.S investment in Italy is concentrated in manufacturing, computer services and software, and energy, with significant industrial relationships in the aerospace and automotive sectors.

The current Italian government was formed in the spring of 2018, when the Five Star Movement and the League parties came together to form Western Europe’s first populist government. Guiseppe Conte serves as Prime Minister. (POL please edit/change this)

• Italy has a population of approximately 61 million. Industrial activity is concentrated in the north from Turin in the west through Milan to Venice in the east. This is one of the most industrialized and prosperous areas in Europe and accounts for more than 50% of Italy’s national income. By contrast, Italy’s southern region, or "Mezzogiorno" is less developed.

• The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family owned.

• Small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) dominate Italy’s economy, many of which are family-owned, comprising 99% of Italian businesses and producing 68% of Italy’s GDP.

• Italy’s SME sector has a higher proportion of firms employing fewer than ten people than the EU average. These companies contribute nearly half of total employment and one-third of value to the economy.

• Italy ranks 46 out of 190 countries in the World Bank Doing Business Report and 54 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Italy Trade Development and Promotion