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Europe >> Italy >> Business and Economy of Italy

Busines and Economy of Italy

Two things define the Italian economy: its membership of the European Monetary Union and, the glaring divide between the industrialized, prosperous North and the rural and backward south.

Industry and agriculture lag behind the service sector, which accounts for more than half the domestic product. Natural resources include fish, mercury, potash, marble, sulphur and coal. The major industries are machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing and, of course, the glamorous lot: tourism, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear and ceramics. Oil, petroleum, telecommunications and transport industries are important too. Italy’s major trading partners are Germany, France, UK, USA, Spain and Switzerland.

Its agricultural products are typically Mediterranean, citrus fruits and plump vegetables. Industrial raw materials and power (about 75% of the electricity requirement) form the bulk of imports.

Italy has had to curb high rates of inflation and implement budgets that comply with EMU norms. Unemployment in the South, wage flexibility, growth in pension entitlements and the ‘parallel economy’ are this capitalist country’s major economic concerns.

Business Guide

Italy imports most of its raw materials and 75 % of its electricity. Its economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for more than 50% of the domestic product. Its natural resources include fish, mercury, potash, marble, sulphur and coal. The major industries are machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing and, of course, the glamorous lot: tourism, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear and ceramics. Oil, petroleum, telecommunications and transport industries are important too.

Milan, Turin and Genoa are the biggest centres of industry. The important business centres are Rome, Florence, Padua, Verona, Vicenza and Bologna; all these have trade fairs at various times of the year that you might try to catch. Many of the hotels in these cities are equipped to deal with conferences and conventions. The Italian National Convention Bureau, on Via Marghera 2 in Rome has exhaustive information on convention centres in the country.

Most government offices close at 1345 hours after which it is quite impossible to meet officials unless you have a special appointment. Private businesses usually work from 0900 to 1700 hours, Monday to Friday. Once you have an appointment, be punctual in keeping it; appointments are mandatory. Knowledge of Italian is an asset. We recommend formal business attire for both men and women.


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