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ITALIAN MANUFACTURED PRODUCTS BEAT THE CRISIS THE FIGURES FROM THE LATEST ITALIAN TRADE COMMISSION (ICE) REPORT
The crisis may still be making itself felt but Italian manufactured products continue to be the trump card in the recovery. The proof: the increase in overseas sales by Italian companies, a sound +3.7% which bodes well for the future. And this is the positive news to come out of the Italian Trade Commision’s 2012-2013 report entitled "Italy in the International Economy".
In addition to the quality of products marked ‘Made in Italy’, several other factors have also contributed to this positive outcome, starting with the increasingly competitive prices of Italian industrial products. This is attributable to the favourable performance of exchange rates in as much as the euro has on average fallen in value compared to other currencies over the year, and also to the general contained growth of products on foreign markets. All of this has also lead to an improvement of the trade surplus which has gone from being in the negative (-25.5%) to being in the positive (€11 billion between 2011 and 2012). Against this backdrop energy figures still remain in the red at more than €60 billion, albeit a drop over the previous year. Even the deficit of Italy’s current balance of payments has progressively lessened for the two years in question, falling in percentage terms over GDP from -3.1% to -0.5%.
The ratio has also fallen in the detail of trade with individual countries, highlighting how sales of manufacturing products and Italian services in some EU states, such as the UK, and in other non-member states, like the USA, Switzerland, Turkey and Russia have risen. On the other hand imports towards all countries, with the exception of those providing gas and petroleum such as Libya, for example, have in general terms fallen.
Among the manufacturing sectors that have driven growth, we find refined energy products, pharmaceuticals, food, jewellery, leather ware and metal products, whilst textiles, rubbers, plastics, electronics, computers and means of transport are in decline. The report’s findings reveal that the performance of exports has not been the same in all parts of Italy: whereas exports in the north-west increased in line with the national average, those in the north-east fell, and this is probably attributable to the earthquake which struck Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. Central Italy, on the other hand, has witnessed a rapid increase in foreign sales, whilst those of Central Italy have not "grown" enough, with the exception, that is, of Sicily, Sardinia and the Apulia region.
In general the report reveals that the number of businesses that are exporting are increasing. This is particularly the case for those small to medium size firms, which perhaps over the course of this past year have ventured into foreign markets for the very first time. The businesses that do appear to be suffering more are those established exporters for which there appears to have been an almost “natural selection" process because of the crisis. What does remain apparent is the difficulty that Italy has in attracting investments, not just because of a slowdown in world demand. As Riccardo Monti, the Director of the Italian Trade Commission (ICE), explained "Yet again the key importance of exports for the balance of payments is confirmed. The increase of 3.7% in sales, despite the recession, tells us that Italian manufactured products are flourishing and they are expanding.”