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Made in Italy agri-food, exports hold up to Covid-19

Crea's annual report has been published

The agri-food sector has shown greater resilience in international trade than other sectors, more affected by the restrictions and the consequent economic crisis.

The 2019 Report on the foreign trade of agri-food products has been published, created by Crea Politiche and Bioeconomy. Now in its 28th edition, this year is enriched by an in-depth analysis of the leading Made in Italy products and a focus on the impact of the Covid-19 containment measures and the consequent economic crisis on the agri-food trade of our country. Against the positive trend recorded in the first quarter of the year, the following three months - characterized by the impact of Covid and the lockdown - saw a sharp decline in the value of exports (-3.6%) and, above all, a real drop in imports (-12.1%), compared to the same period of the previous year. The contraction in agri-food flows was concentrated in the months of April and in particular in May, followed, however, by a widespread recovery in trade in June. Among the categories most affected by the decline in imports, in the primary sector, vegetables, raw coffee and forestry and fishing products; in the processed meat, on the other hand, both fresh and prepared meats and fish products. As far as the export sectors are concerned, horticultural products were most affected in the primary sector, while meat, roasted coffee, confectionery products and wine were the most affected. However, this trend was partially offset by the growth in exports of other important Made in Italy products, such as pasta, tomato preserves and olive oil. Among the main partner areas of Italy, the EU and Asia were the most affected in the second quarter, both in terms of imports and exports of our country.

However, for the EU, the net increase in exports in the first quarter offset the decline in the second, resulting in a positive half-year trend. The flows from the South American market have remained substantially stable, while imports from North America have grown. The latter is confirmed as the main non-EU destination market for Italian agri-food, with an overall positive half-year trend, despite the slight decline in the second quarter. In the first half of 2020, the trend decline in the value of Italy's agri-food imports was 4.6% while exports grew by over 2%. In the same period, Italy's overall trade in goods fell by around 16%. The agri-food sector has therefore shown greater resilience in international trade than other sectors, more affected by the restrictions and the consequent economic crisis.

In 2019, the Report recorded a 4.4% growth in value, compared to 2018, of agri-food exports, which reached 43.8 billion euros. The positive trend in exports recorded in recent years is therefore confirmed, with an acceleration compared to the previous year. Agri-food imports also grew (+ 1.6%), after the decline in 2018, reaching 44.5 billion euros. The weight of agri-food on the overall trade in goods has increased and, for the fifth consecutive year, there is an improvement in the deficit of the agri-food balance, which has more than halved compared to 2018 and fell for the first time under one billion euros. Looking at the geographical distribution of agri-food exchanges, in 2019 the EU 28 area represented 70.5% of our purchases from abroad and just over 65% of sales, both values down compared to 2018. North America and Asia have further consolidated their role as the main non-EU outlet markets for Italian agri-food, increasing their incidence.

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EFA News - European Food Agency