Italy: commercial relations with Spain and sectors of opportunity

On a commercial level, in 2020 Italy is the third customer in Spain and our fourth supplier. The evolution of Spanish exports to Italy in recent years has been upward, starting from the 20,261 million euros registered in 2016 to exceed 23,214 million in 2019. For its part, the volume of imports from the Italian market also showed a positive trend, with 17,979 million euros in 2016 and a figure equivalent to 21,087 million in 2018, although last year its volume decreased to 20,566 million.

Regarding investments, they have traditionally shown an imbalance favorable to Italians in our country in accumulated stock. In 2019, the flow of Spanish investments in the Italian market registered a value of 241.2 million euros, while Italian investments in Spain totaled 744.8 million.

Italy is one of the main European markets, with more than 60 million potential consumers and a high purchasing power. Although with notable economic disparities between the northern, more industrialized, and southern regions, it presents the characteristics of a developed market: mature and saturated in the vast majority of products and sectors. Therefore, foreign companies that intend to enter or expand their presence must identify the sectors in which they can be more competitive, taking into account that it is a market with consumers who demand high quality, especially in sectors such as agri-food and fashion.

Regarding the structure of recent bilateral commercial exchanges, the most relevant products of Spanish exports were, above all, automobiles, fuels, clothing, olive oil, raw materials and semi-manufactures of plastic and chemical products. On the Italian side, the main imports were concentrated in products such as automotive equipment, components and accessories, fuels and lubricants, automobiles, plastic raw materials and semi-manufactures, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and foundry and steel products.

Despite the fact that Italy is an open economy and that it belongs to the Community market, there are some strategic sectors of the Italian economy in which there may be certain administrative barriers for foreign companies.

With due considerations due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus crisis, the most outstanding business opportunities are in the services sector, which represents almost 74% of the Italian economy, with outstanding activities such as tourism, financial services and insurance or transport. The agri-food, light industry and equipment supply sectors are also noteworthy. On the other hand, the European recovery funds allocated to Italy will offer investment opportunities to Spanish companies that can participate in projects related to their use, especially in those related to priority aspects such as the energy transition, sustainability and the economy. digital.

Links of interest

Italy: country sheet

OECD Economic Survey: Italy 2019

Main export sectors to Italy

Main sectors of Italian imports


Camera Commercio Italiana per la Spagna

INVITALIA – L'Agenzia per lo Sviluppo

ICEX – Spain Export and Investments

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