China sends January exports into the red

3 min read


«2024 – explains Ice president Matteo Zoppas – begins with caution. Exports to non-EU countries in January stood at just under 22 billion euros, marking -1.2% compared to January 2023 which had achieved an extremely positive performance (+20.7% compared to the year previous), so the data is encouraging; the decline is instead -4.5% (-1.7% net of the occasional impact of shipbuilding) compared to the month of December 2023. Very different export trends in neighboring areas (see ASEAN countries, Japan and China) demonstrate how all the plans have actually failed and the difficulty in making realistic predictions. Never before has it been strategic for Italian companies to intercept potential new markets, in addition to the traditional outlets for Made in Italy. The picture is further complicated by the difficulties linked to the context in which companies find themselves operating due to the effects of geopolitical tensions and the upcoming elections which affect the spending propensities of consumers who are currently very cautious and awaiting possible developments”.

In detail

In January 2024, a cyclical reduction for both flows is estimated for trade with non-EU27 countries, larger for imports (-8.7%) than for exports (-4.5%).The contraction on a monthly basis of exports is due to lower sales of capital goods (-9.2%) and intermediate goods (-8.3%); On the other hand, sales of energy (+13.2%) and durable (+0.6%) and non-durable (+1.4%) consumer goods increased. On the import side, cyclical reductions are noted for all groupings; the largest for energy (-12.8%) and durable (-11.9%) and non-durable consumer goods (-9.7%). In the November 2023-January 2024 quarter, compared to the previous one, exports decreases by 2.1%; with the exception of durable consumer goods (+7.4%), the reduction concerns all groupings and is very marked for energy (-21.8%). In the same period, imports recorded a decline of 7.1%, generalized and larger for energy (-14.1%). On an annual basis, in January 2024, exports fell by 1.2% (it was -7.0% in December 2023). The decline is determined by the reduction in sales of intermediate goods (-14.8%), in particular, and of non-durable consumer goods (-1.4%). Imports recorded a trend contraction of 19.4%, contributed by the reduction in purchases of all groups and, mainly, of energy (-35.8%) and intermediate goods (-16.6%).

In January 2024 the trade balance with non-EU27 countries is positive and equal to +2,889 million (-1,386 million in the same month of 2023). The energy deficit (-4,410 million) is lower than a year earlier (-7,488 million) and the surplus in the trade of non-energy products increases from 6,102 million in January 2023 to 7,299 million in January 2024.

In January 2024, there was a marked contraction on an annual basis in exports to China (-46.2%). However, there was a clear increase in sales to ASEAN and OPEC countries (+26.4% for both), Japan (+19.9%) and the United States (+14.4%).Except from the United States (+ 24.5%) and Turkey (+16.2%), imports from all the main non-EU27 partner countries are decreasing on an annual basis. The most marked trend reductions concern purchases from Russia (-79.6%), ASEAN countries (-27.9%), OPEC countries (-21.8%), China (-21.6%) and MERCOSUR countries ( -20.0%).

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