Food and farming exports continue to grow, totalling around €30 billion in 2016
Italian food and farming exports are continuing to grow even in a difficult international context. According to Italian food producers’ association , exports from the sector are expected to total around €30.2 billion in 2016, up 4.1% compared to 2015.
This is certainly a slower growth rate than 2015 when the food and farming-focused Expo 2015 world trade fair was held in Milan (sector exports rose 6.7% that year) but still “decisively encouraging” said Federalimentare President Luigi Scordamaglia.
“The slowdown is due to a series of factors, starting with the cooling off in global economies,” he said. “But above all it is due to the creeping protectionism that has reached record levels. In seven years we have had more than 3,500 protection measures in foreign markets, one every four days in the United States. The phenomenon has been underway for a while and subtracts 2-2.5% of potential value from our exports,” he said.
The scenario for 2017
The year in course will be influenced by different international scenarios, Scordamaglia said. “There is a legitimate expectation for the end of the embargo against Russia and the Italian government is playing a front line role in this. After difficult years, the Russian consumer has rediscovered their purchasing power, and sales are growing again. This is an important occasion that the “Made in Italy” sector should not miss. On the US front we do not see critical situations for the moment. The plan of the ICE – Italian Trade Agency and the Ministry of Economic Development to fight ‘Italian sounding’ products continues and is bearing fruit. The news for 2017 is that we will relaunch it on the Asian markets, where copied Italian products from Australia are subtracting value for our exports,” he said.
International agreements will also provide impulse for Italian exports, including the recent CETA deal signed between the US and Canada and welcomed by Federalimentare. “Awaiting a clear position from Europe on the TTIP, we have viewed the Trump administration’s suspension of the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as positive, because it was damaging for our exports. And it is paradoxical that now it is the Europeans who are assuming protectionist positions on the TTIP,” he said. With the “Made in Italy” plan, the launch of international agreements and the end of the commercial embargo on Russia, “we are not far from an annual average growth of 5% in our exports. In 2017 we expect exports of €31.7 billion,” he said.
On the number front, in the January-November 2016 period exports were worth €27.465 billion. “That results in a change of +3.5% compared to the first 11 months of 2015, up from the 2.9% growth in the first 10 months of 2015. According to the latest aggregated data from ISTAT, a strong acceleration was registered in December compared to the same month of 2015. For that reason, the annual growth rate foreseen for the 12 months should rise to around +4.2%. Over the 11 months exports to the US grew 5.4%, while China continued to fall, slipping 14.2%.” In the EU, an expansion of 3.5% was recorded, in line with the general trend.
The clear advantage of exports in the food and farming sector was confirmed compared to overall exports from the country, which were up 0.7% after a 0.2% rise over the 10 months. In the details, there was a widespread consolidation of the main European markets in the first 11 months of 2016: Germany (+2.6%), France (+3.3%) and Britain (+1.4%). Among big markets, Spain maintains significant strength, up 6.2%. The return to positive territory in the Russian market strengthened, with a 3.2% rise. In the east, declines were confirmed in Japan (-2.7%) and Hong Kong (-10.3%) while South Korea’s strong advance stood out (+17.7%). Over the 11 months, food industry imports were worth €18.892 billion, recording a 1% fall in the January-November period. The positive balance amounts to €8.573 billion.