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Official Name: Italian Republic

Internet Domain: .it
International Dialing Code: +39

Table of Contents

Location and Size Credit and Collections
Government Risk Assessment
Legal System Business Climate
Economy Business Protocol
Comparative Economic Indicators Other Sources of Information

Interesting Facts

Location and Size

Italy is located in southern Europe. It is a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia. The total area is 301,340 sq. km, slightly larger than Arizona.

Government

Italy has been a democratic republic since June 2, 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum. The Italian state is centralized. The prefect of each of the provinces is appointed by and answerable to the central government. In addition to the provinces, the constitution provides for 20 regions with limited governing powers.

The 1948 constitution established a bicameral parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet), President Sergio Mattarella (head of state) and the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (head of government). The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected by a proportional representation system.

Legal System

Italy’s legal system is based on civil law. Italy has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction. (What does this mean?)

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Economy

The Italian economy has changed dramatically since the end of World War II. From an agriculturally based economy, it has developed into an industrial state ranked as the world's seventh-largest market economy.

Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, 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.

Italy is the fourth largest European economy and has for long enjoyed one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe, despite the decline in traditional industries such as textiles and car manufacturing as a result of globalization. 

Italy belongs to the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations, is a member of the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Leading Markets (2015): France 12.7%, Austria 11.2%, Switzerland 6.5%, US 6.2%

Leading Exports-commodities: engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals, and nonferrous metals

Leading Suppliers (2015): Germany 15.9%, France 8.5%, China 6.2%, Netherlands 5.3%

Leading Imports-commodities: engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages, and tobacco

Top Industries: tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics

Top Agricultural Products: fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives; beef, dairy products; fish

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Comparative Economic Indicators - 2016

Italy Austria France Slovenia Switzerland USA
Population* (millions) 59.83 8.474 66.03 2.0 7.6 318.9
Population growth rate* (%) 0.5 0.5 0.5 -0.142 0.223 0.7
Literacy (%) 99.07 99.0 99.0 99.7 99.0 99.0
Unemployment rate (%) 12.4
1 9.7 9.4 4.4 9.3
Inflation (%) 0.3 1.2 0.1 0.8 0.1 -0.7
Population below poverty line (%) 29.9 4.2
6.2
12.3
7.4 12.0
GDP** (USD billions) 35,925.88 50,546.70 2,110.0 55.8 317.0 14,260.0
GDP real growth rate (%) -1.9 0.4 -2.2 -7.3 -1.5 -2.4
GDP per capita** (USD) 28,484.35 50,546.0 32,800.0 27,900.0 41,700.0 53,041.0
Public debt (% of GDP) 132.6 74.5 79.7 34.0 43.5 108
Exports (USD billions) 369.0 141.4 546.8 24.3 190.1 994.7
Imports (USD billions) 358.7 139.8 532.2 22.9 177.2 1,445.0
Currency Euro
EUR
Euro
EUR
Euro
EUR
Euro
EUR
Euro
EUR
Dollar
USD
Exchange rates (per USD) 3/14/2016 1.11 1.12 0.8 0.8 0.8 na
Exchange rates (per EUR) 03/14/2016 na na na na na .90
Data primarily from CIA World Factbook
* February, 2016 estimates
** PPP – Purchasing Power Parity

Credit and Collections

Dispute Resolution

Italy has a written and consistently applied commercial and bankruptcy law. Foreign creditors can choose among different means of dispute resolution, including legally binding arbitration. However, Italian courts accept and enforce foreign and arbitral panel judgments only upon request, which puts the issue back into the Italian judiciary.

Though notoriously slow (civil trials average seven years in length), the Italian legal system meets generally recognized principles of international law, with provisions for enforcing property and contractual rights. Creditors should be aware, however, that the Italian legal system does not have some of the basic protections found in U.S and other European countries. For instance, jury members are selected at random but are not vetted for prejudices nor are they sequestered during trials.

Risk Assessment

Coface Country Rating: B – moderate risk.
Coface Business Climate Rating: A2 – relatively low risk.

The growth rate in 2016 is expected to be doubled from 2015. Low inflation and easier credit will boost household consumption and improve unemployment rates. Investment is also expected to benefit from the increased growth rate. 

Business Climate

According to the World Bank, Italy is a country with high freedom for business, investment and trade. The Italian economy is well developed and surpasses that of the United Kingdom, Germany and Greece.

Italy has moved slowly on implementing needed structural reforms, however, such as reducing political corruption, 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. In the longer-term, Italy's low fertility rate and quota-driven immigration policies will increasingly strain its economy.

Transparency of Regulatory System: Italy is subject to single market directives mandated by the EU, which are intended to harmonize regulatory regimes among EU countries. In reality, the average firm in Italy faces an uphill climb as regards compliance with business regulations.

Intellectual Property Rights: Inadequate enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) remains a serious problem in Italy. While anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting laws on the books are widely regarded as adequate, relatively few IPR cases are brought to trial. Judges still regard IPR violations (and copyright violations in particular) as petty offenses, and they are a weak link in combating piracy in Italy. 

Conversion and Transfer Policies: In accordance with EU directives, Italy has no foreign exchange controls. There are reporting requirements but no restrictions on currency transfers.

Economic Freedom: Italy’s economic freedom score is 61.2, making its economy the 86th freest in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom.  Italy is ranked 36th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its score is slightly above the world average.

Corruption: Corruption and organized crime are significant impediments to investment and economic growth in Italy. Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 ranked Italy 61st out of 168 countries evaluated.

Political Violence: Political violence is not a threat to foreign investments in Italy.

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Business Protocol

Italians prefer to do business with people they know and trust. A third party introduction will go a long way in providing an initial platform from which to work. Italians much prefer face-to-face contact, so it is important to spend time in Italy developing the relationship.

More information on Business Protocol:

Sources for further information on doing business in Italy

Cervid Group, provides Italian business information and credit reports

Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC

Italian American Chamber of Commerce

Italy, Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA)

Interesting Facts About Italy


  • Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world, welcoming 46 million foreign visitors annually. 

  • When McDonald's first opened in Rome, food purists outside the restaurant gave away free spaghetti to remind people of their culinary heritage. 

  • Parmesan cheese originated in the area around Parma, Italy. 

  • Approximately 85% of Italians are Roman Catholic. 

  • Italy is home to Europe's only three active volcanoes: Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvius. 

  • Vatican City, in Rome, is the smallest country in the world. 

  • Fourteen billion espressos are consumed in Italy each year. 
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This information is provided by ABC-Amega Inc. Providing international receivable management and debt collection services for exporters to more than 200 countries including Italy. For further information, contact info@abc-amega.com.

This report represents a compilation of information from a wide variety of reputable sources.

Comparative Economic Indicators: CIA World Factbook

Risk Assessment information: Provided with permission by Coface Country Rating.

Exchange Rates: OANDA.com The Currency Site.