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: 8/15/2019
  • Italy is the world’s 8th largest economy with a GDP of $2.18 trillion in 2018. 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 0.9% in 2018 and is projected by the Government of Italy to grow by 0.2% in 2019.
  • In 2018 Italy was the 19th largest market for U.S. exports, which totaled approximately $23.2 billion, and the 4th largest export market in the EU, following Germany, Netherlands 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%), 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 2018, the United States was Italy’s third largest destination for exports, with U.S. imports from Italy totaling $50.1 billion, following Germany and France. The U.S. had a goods trade deficit with Italy valued at $31.95 billion in 2018.
  • In 2018 Italian foreign direct investment in the U.S. totaled $35.67 billion, supporting 78,200 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 $30.70 billion in 2017, 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 June 2018, when the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League party came together to form a populist coalition government.  Giuseppe Conte serves as Prime Minister.
  • 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 the world and accounts.
  • for more than 50% of Italy’s national income.  By contrast, Italy’s southern region, or “Mezzogiorno” is less developed. 
  • Small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) -many of them family-owned -comprise 99% of Italian businesses and produce 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 51 out of 190 countries in the World Bank Doing Business Report, down from 46 in 2017 and, though its index score is gradually improving, it ranks 53 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.