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Non-EU exports reach record high of €60 bn

by Luca Orlando

24 Exclusive content for IT24

Let's begin with the bad news, for once it's quicker. The slowdown in sales of “Made in Italy” products in Japan and Russia is truly the only discordant note in an almost perfect score.

Extra-EU exports in April have registered a second consecutive month of double-digit growth, producing in the first four months of the year an historic record of revenues for our businesses: over €60 billion.

An increase of over €4 billion compared to last year, of more than 20 if the comparison is with the low point of 2009. There has been a “bit of help,” with a more favourable 2015 calendar, but the additional work day in April 2105 (ISTAT estimates a contribution to the growth of 2.8%) does not change the sense of the statistic, that on average indicates good times.

The annual surge of 12.2% is not influenced, like it was in March, by the special sales of ships. These are “monster” orders but, by definition, one-off, which explains the -2% in the seasonally adjusted monthly data, caused by the capital goods sector.

It would be more correct to focus, therefore, on an annual growth that appears solid with the contribution together of its geographic and sectorial components, with a push that goes up to 13%, eliminating the energy calculation.

The turbo-effect comes once again from the United States, with a monthly increase of 36.4%, with the result that reaches a gain of 39% in the first four months. In four months, thanks also to the renewed competitiveness of the euro, Washington has purchased goods for €12 billion, €3.3 billion more than in the same period of last year.

The good news, however, is the presence of numerous areas of double-digit growth, starting with China (+17%) with the result of finally having a budget surplus from the purchases by Beijing at the beginning of the year. A solid surge also for the Middle East and India, with positive performances, although less brilliant, even for the Central and South America, Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.

The only minus signs, as mentioned, are for Japan (-6.6%) and Russia, with Moscow still dealing with the fall in domestic buying power and with the effects of the tension with Ukraine.

Russia’s “Made in Italy” purchases in April fell by 29.5%, exactly in line with the data of the previous three months. This means that between January and April our companies have lost over €900 million in Moscow. Orders, in any case, that have been more than compensated by the growth of the other countries, that range from consumer goods (+13.1%), intermediate goods (+15.7%) and capital goods (+10.9%) that confirm a widespread and not episodic growth.

The recovery of the investment cycle on the part of businesses and family purchases can be seen from the April import figures, up by 6.3% on an annual basis, the second consecutive rise. A figure that has been fuelled in part by the rising dollar, and it is no coincidence that imports from the USA are growing by almost 30 points, and that it is strengthening, excluding the energy calculation: +14.2% with growth almost double for capital goods.