Italy’s exports increased by almost a fifth last year and imports by over a third, according to the country’s National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) on Thursday.

However, Italy’s trade balance moved into negative territory as a result of elevated energy prices.

Italian exports last year rose by 19.9%, the biggest year-on-year rise since 2005. Exports to trading partners in the European Union rose by 19.7%, whilst those outside the EU gained 20.2%.

The principal drivers were medicinal and pharmaceutical products, which registered a 42.8% rise. In addition, base metals and metal products rose by 17.6%, and refined petroleum products soared by 80.0%.

In addition, energy prices were also trailing the 36.5% rise in imports, which according to Italy’s National Statistics Institute, was “explained by the greater purchase of energy products”, which soared in value due to the war in Ukraine.

Furthermore, Italy’s agricultural union Coldiretti stated the 17% rise in agricultural exports from last year was a record high. 

The union added that Germany was the largest market for Italy’s agricultural exports in 2022, with a value totalling €9.4 billion.

Data from ISTAT revealed the trend for last year as a whole was not shown at the end of the year. In December, exports contracted by 1.9% and imports by 1.1%, compared to the previous December.

Additionally, December’s exports were lower among EU trading partners, falling 1.2%, and also outside the European Union, declining 2.6%.

The country’s largest trading partners in 2022 were Turkey, where exports rose by 38.4%, followed by Switzerland, with a 24.3% rise and the U.S., with a 22.5% increase.

In contrast, there was a steep decline in exports to Russia, 27.7%, as a result of the sanctions introduced since the start of the war in Ukraine.

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