Exports stem the slowdown in industry

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World trade falls back, national exports do not. Here, in the “resistance” of our sales across the border, is the main explanation for the substantial stability of manufacturing revenues. The analysis of Prometeia and Intesa Sanpaolo shows growth of 0.7% in the first 11 months of 2023, therefore a new record looking at current values. But even taking prices into account, the decline remains limited, -1.6% between January and November at constant prices.

The support guaranteed by exports is relevant. Because in the face of global imports of goods falling by 3.4% in volume, the worst figure in the last 15 years if we exclude the 2020 shock, Italian exports have maintained a stable profile at constant prices (therefore gaining market shares) and still expansive (+2.3%) at current values.

The stability of sales on non-EU markets, especially in Asia and the United States, managed to partially offset the weakness of intra-EU trade, in particular the drop in direct sales in Germany (-1.4%), first commercial partner of our country, closely linked to the German production chains.

While exports have held up, on the consumption side there has been a 1% drop in terms of the purchase of goods, while the break-even in investments is explained by means of transport and machinery, against a reduction in construction.

The car wins, followed by the wood and the intermediates

And in fact, looking at the sectors, at the bottom of the ranking we find two sectors linked to the construction cycle, namely furniture (-8.7%) and household appliances (-5.5%). The intermediates area is also doing badly, including chemistry and metallurgy and then the fashion system, penalized by the weakening of demand. At the other extreme, Automotive, FMCG and Pharmaceuticals stand out in terms of growth rates. Motor vehicles and motorcycles (+14.7%) benefited from very dynamic internal demand in all segments, and from the unblocking of orders that remained unfulfilled due to difficulties in the supply of components. The performance of FMCG (+9.2%) is driven by the cosmetics segment, both on the domestic market and on foreign markets. This is the only sector, among the producers of consumer goods, to stand out in the top part of the ranking, together with Pharmaceuticals (+4.3%) which, despite the decline in exports in the second part of the year (compared to peaks at the beginning of 2023), found decisive support in the domestic market, due to the return of influenza viruses. Among the future unknowns, analysts explain, there is the transit crisis in the Suez Canal, the hub through which 14% of our global imports pass. However, this share is much higher for some sectors: 27% of the fashion system (which rises to 35% for imported yarns and fabrics); over 20% of imports for metallurgy and electrical engineering, the latter being fundamental for the energy transformation process (20% of electricity generation/management equipment and 30% of accumulators/batteries pass through the Red Sea , including those intended for the Automotive sector).

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