Doing Business in Italy: What are the Latest Market Trends?

Italy possesses the fourth largest economy in Europe and is the tenth largest exporter in the world.  

The UK is one of its largest trading partners, so importing from or exporting to the country provides many great business opportunities.


As a founding member of the European Union and Eurozone, Italy and its economy underwent a vast transformation in the post-war years that saw its GDP grow rapidly until around 1990. A largely agricultural country, it soon became industrialised after the Second World War and Milan developed into the nation’s financial capital.


Government overspending and a slowdown of growth meant Italy was hit hard by the global recession in 2008. While it still has a few economic problems, as do most countries, GDP is on the rise again and the nation still has a busy industry. If you’re hoping to start trading with Italy then discover more about the country’s major industries below.

Major Italian Industries


Over three-quarters of the Italian ceramic industry’s turnover is generated by exports. While it may not be the largest industry for the nation, it is one that has seen a big increase in demand in recent years that is set to continue. This is due to the government encouraging the development of sustainable Italian manufacturers as the export market expands beyond Europe.



Italy is the fourth largest chemical producer in the EU with a turnover of around €57 billion, making it one of their major exports. Nearly all the industrial districts have at least one company involved in the chemicals industry on site. Around 65% are Italian companies with the other 35% foreign companies based in the country.


Armani, Gucci, Prada and many more; Italy is synonymous with fine clothing. All these designer brands and many more, including sportswear and footwear, can be found right across the globe as they make up an important part of the country’s export market.


Food and Drink

The country shifted from an agricultural based economy to an industrial one after the Second World War but food and drink are still big exports from Italy. Olive oil, fruits and vegetables, livestock, fish, wines and cheese are some of the main ones, due to the nation being surrounded by the sea and its warm climate, especially to the south.


The engineering sector of Italy is currently the second largest in the EU and totals around 18% of the country’s export market. This is made up of thousands of small, independent manufacturing and engineering companies, producing everything from car parts to factory machinery.


Metals and Metal Products

Around 50,000 companies employing 850,000 workers make up Italy’s metal industry across the country as it contributes to 13% of the export market. This is impressive considering it imports most of its raw materials from other nations. Large iron and steel companies are found in the south while many more are located in Italy’s north.



With a warm summer climate, a rich history, great food and drink and even skiing in the north during winter, it’s no surprise Italy is popular with tourists all year round. Tourism therefore plays an important part in the nation’s economy.



Fiat and Alfa Romeo are probably the two most popular cars with everyday drivers coming out of Italy, but it is more notable for the luxury vehicles it produces and exports. Home to Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and more, these iconic vehicles are exported far and wide, from Dubai to Japan.

The Future of Italian Business

While Italy does have some major companies it is mostly made up by a lot of micro enterprises in various sectors. Some claim that this is a riskier strategy but for a lot of businesses it has paid off. However, the country’s economy was hit harder than many other EU nations and is recovering slower. It is now looking for more foreign investment in businesses to help boost its economy, which provides many fresh opportunities.


Setting up a new company or expanding your existing one to start exporting to Italy could be a smart move in the coming years. Here at TNT we have excellent shipping services to Italy which ensure your deliveries reach their destination on time and intact, should you begin doing business in Italy.