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How to export to Italy: 10 products exporters can sell

how-to-export-to-italy-10-products-exporters-can-sell

Exporting to a foreign country is a great way to expand your business. Not only does it grow your pool of potential buyers, but it helps to build brand recognition outside of your local area.

Many exporters are considering expanding their businesses to Italy because this country has one of the largest economies in the world.

In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about exporting to Italy. We will take a general look at international trade in Italy before we review some trade restrictions that are set forth by both the Italian government and the European Union.

From there, we will discuss how you can sell to retailers in Italy and the top products to sell in this market. We’ll wrap things up by answering some frequently asked questions about trade with Italian businesses.

Table of Contents

International trade in Italy at a glance

Since the Italian economy is the 8th largest in the world1 and its GDP is predicted to grow by 4.2% this year,2 it has recently caught some attention in the international market. The most recent update from the Worldbank indicates that Italy imports $503,581 million worth of goods annually.3

The International Trade Administration proposes that there are several things on the horizon that could create opportunities for exporters.4

One interesting thing about Italy is that the economy is made almost entirely of local Italian companies. If an exporter has an innovative product, it would likely face little domestic competition.

The top sectors in Italy include tourism, manufacturing, service, and agriculture.5 About a third of exports to Italy are made up of machinery, pharmaceuticals, and aircrafts.6

Italy’s top trade partners include Germany, China, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, the United States, Russia, and Poland.7

Although Italy is not a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), it trades among members of the organization.

Italian import requirements and customs legislation

The Italian government has several import requirements set in place to regulate foreign trade. Since Italy is one of the EU countries, it also follows rules that are set forth by that organization.

First, we’d like to point out that there is a lot less regulation for trade amongst EU countries thanks to the EU’s Union Customs Code (UCC). This standard was put in place to facilitate free trade between the countries in this association.

However, countries that are not part of the European Union must obtain an EORI number in order to get their goods through customs. In order to get an EORI number, organizations must provide a great bit of specific information about both the company and the person applying.

In order to get an EORI number, you must inquire with your local government. They will point you in the right direction. Once you receive verification that your company has been cleared, it should be much easier for your business to start exporting to Italy.

Other notable import requirements are trade barriers and import tariffs. These are set in place as a “first line of defense” to control what is coming into the country. It is also important that exporters meet different criteria related to environmental protection.

As for restrictions on specific imports, Italy follows the EU’s TARIC guidelines.

How to sell to Italy

Entering a new market, especially a foreign one can seem a bit tricky. Not only do you have to pay attention to a new set of rules and regulations, but you must find a way to successfully enter the market.

If you are interested in selling to retailers in Italy, the first step is to determine what you’re going to sell and who you’re going to sell to. Do some research to determine the demand for the products that you have in mind. Also, check to see if it meets import requirements set by the EU member states and the Italian authorities.

Once you’ve developed your offer, it is time to start connecting with Italian companies. You can opt to connect directly with buyers or go through a third-party exporting company. There are benefits and drawbacks to each of these approaches.

If you decide to connect directly with buyers, we recommend leveraging the support of an online B2B marketplace. Alibaba.com is a great tool for kickstarting your exporting business. Since it is known as a trusted platform around the world, buyers in many countries, including Italy, turn to Alibaba.com when looking for a supplier.

Alibaba.com provides several ways for you to connect with buyers. The first is by creating online listings in a curated storefront. Since Alibaba.com doubles as a search engine, product listings are searchable on the platform.

For example, if you’re selling steel, a buyer can search for “steel,” and if your listings are properly optimized with related terms, your listing will appear in the results.

Another way to connect with buyers on Alibaba.com is to answer Requests for Quotation in the dedicated portal on the site. How this works is buyers can make posts with their specific needs and sellers can reply with a custom quote if they can meet that need.

Top 10 products to import

The key to finding success in exporting is choosing a product that there is a demand for. Here are 10 of the top goods that are imported into Italy.

1. Vehicles

Vehicles are a major import in Italy. There are quite a few Italian car manufacturers, but most of them focus primarily on a luxury offering. This leaves the people demanding more economical options, which creates the need for imported cars.

However, “vehicles” refers to more than just automobiles. This also includes motorcycles, trucks, tractors, trailers, and non-motorized vehicles.

2. Electronics

Since our world is becoming more digitally connected, it makes sense that electronics are so close to the top of this list.

Italy has seen a significant rate of electronic imports recently. Some of the main types of electronics include smartphones, phone systems, TV receivers, generators, cables, wires, batteries, and electrical circuit parts.

3. Natural resources

There is a huge demand for a variety of natural resources and fuels in Italy, including minerals, oils, crude petroleum, petroleum gas, coal, tar, peat, and mineral waxes.

4. Metals

Metal is a major import in many areas of the world since it is naturally occurring in certain geographic regions.

Italy is no exception. In fact, metal is a very important import in the Italian market, especially iron, steel, and a variety of precious metals. The demand for this type of material is high since metals are used in a wide variety of industries.

Precious metal imports into Italy have seen a significant increase in recent years due to an increased demand for gold.

5. Gems

Like metals, different gems are naturally occurring in different geographic regions. Although Italy is the natural growing place of many gemstones, including pink opal, mother of pearls, and sapphire, there is a demand for other gems.

However, it is important to keep in mind that certain gemstones are subject to additional customs duties and tariffs.

6. Medical equipment

There are several types of medical equipment that are major imports to Italy. These include dental tools and machinery, imaging equipment (X-ray machines, MRI machines, etc.), and tools for patient aid.

7. Pharmaceuticals

Italy has a huge market for pharmaceuticals. Italy imports both packed and unpacked pharmaceutical products, including products that are used for both treatments and therapies.

8. Plastics

Plastics make up a large chunk of exports to Italy. These materials are used in many different ways across many industries. Plastic is used to make products and for packaging.

9. Machinery

Machinery is another major import to Italy. The term “machinery” encompasses quite a wide variety of goods. These include computers, valves, elevators, printing equipment, vacuums, turbo-jets, and more.

Car parts, including shafts, transmissions, gears, and clutches also fall into this category.

10. Organic chemicals

Organic chemicals are also among the top imports in Italy. These are materials that include carbon and often other organic elements, such as hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, and more.

These materials are used for a wide range of use cases across many industries.

Italian importing FAQ

Now that you have a good idea of what international trade looks like in Italy and what the top imports are, let’s wrap things up with a few frequently asked questions.

Is it worth expanding my export business to Italy?

Depending on what sort of product you are offering, it is most definitely worth considering exporting to Italy. If you sell any of the products or materials that we’ve mentioned above, you have a good chance of making some money by exporting to Italy.

Having connections with Italian companies or a reliable third-party exporting company will also help you increase your chances of success/

Who are Italy’s top trade partners?

Italy’s top trade partners include Germany, China, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, the United States, Russia, and Poland.

Although Italy is not a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), it trades among members of the organization.

Are there commodities that are banned from importation in Italy?

Many products are either not allowed to be imported to Italy or can only be traded when following specific protocols.

Some regulated and restricted items include:

  • Animal products
  • Plant products
  • Explicit and derogatory materials
  • Alcohol
  • Thermometers with mercury
  • Footwear
  • Leather goods
  • Hazmats and dangerous items

Again, there is not a specific ban on all of these items, but there are some limitations on who can and cannot bring them into the country.

Is it possible to import agricultural products into Italy?

Yes, Italy imports a lot of agricultural products for human consumption. In fact, a large portion of Italy’s meat is imported.

Italy also imports seafood from select fisheries. However, since Italy is surrounded by water on three sides, there is a lesser demand for fishery products than there is for meat.

Final thoughts

Italy is full of opportunities for sellers that are looking to tap into a foreign market. This is especially true with some of the anticipated investments of the Italian government.

As we mentioned, one of the best ways to expand into a global market is with a powerful B2B eCommerce platform, like Alibaba.com. With Alibaba.com, you can knock down the barriers that come with trading across borders.

Create an Alibaba.com account and indicate your trade role as “Seller” to start connecting with Italian buyers in no time at all.




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