2011 Exporter Guide to the Italian Market
This report offers U.S. companies interested in exporting food and agricultural products to Italy an overview of the country's economic situation, market structure, and export requirements, including best product export opportunities.
Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, agricultural south, with high unemployment. 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. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 15% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors. Italy has moved slowly on implementing needed structural reforms, such as reducing graft, overhauling costly entitlement programs, and increasing employment opportunities for young workers, particularly women. These conditions will be exacerbated in the near-term by the global economic downturn, but in the longer-term Italy's low fertility rate and quota-driven immigration policies will increasingly strain its economy. The Italian government has struggled to limit government spending, but Italy's exceedingly high public debt remains above 115% of GDP, and its fiscal deficit - just 1.5% of GDP in 2007 - exceeded 5% in 2009 as the costs of servicing the country's debt rose.