Scotland: a trading nation

A plan for growing Scotland's exports.


Country brief

Italy has a population of 60.6 million, making it the fourth largest country in the European Union and the third largest in the Eurozone by population.

Italy has a long-standing trading relationship with Scotland.

Key market information

Economic indicators


GDP 2017*


GDP per capita 2017*


GDP annual growth rate 2013-2017


GDP annual growth forecast 2018-2023




Projected population growth 2017-2050 (% change)


Average tariff 2016


Scotland’s exports to Italy


Scotland’s exports to Italy 2017


Average annual growth in Scotland’s exports to Italy 2013-2017


Country rank in Scotland’s exports 2017


Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Italy

Scotland's Top Export Sectors to Italy Chart

Italy imports from the world


Italy goods and services imports 2017*


Italy average annual Import growth 2013-2017*


Italy Top 15 Import Sectors

Italy Top 15 Import Sectors Chart

Sources: Economic indicators (World Bank, IMF World Economic Outlook), Scotland’s Exports (Export Statistics Scotland 2017), Country Imports (World Bank, UN Comtrade).

* denotes an indicator which has been converted into GB£ from US$ using the Bank of England’s average annual spot rate data. Note growth rates may vary depending on unit of currency used.

The Italian Economy

Italy is a major advanced economy and the Department for International Trade (DIT) reports that it is the second largest manufacturer in Europe behind Germany. The IMF ranked Italy as the eighth largest economy in the world in 2018 and Italy is one of the G7 group of countries. Italy has a similar regulatory framework to Scotland in terms of doing business.

While the Italian economy contracted during the global financial crisis, it is now reporting growth again.

Key economic indicators are:

  • The Italian economy has been growing slowly at 0.9% of GDP in 2018. (OECD) 
  • Exports as a percentage of Italy’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were 32% in 2018. (OECD)
  • Unemployment is relatively high at approximately 10.6% in 2018. (OECD)

Italy is a member of the European Union(EU),the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international bodies. Goods manufactured in Scotland are exempt from import duties. 

The DIT guide to doing business in Italy can be found here

Strengths of the Italian market include:

Italy ranks 51st out of 190 countries in the World Bank rankings for ease of doing business in 2018.

  • Modern infrastructure
  • High level of internationalisation
  • Strong manufacturing and innovation
  • Gateway to the Med and Middle East markets

Benefits for Scottish businesses exporting to Italy include:

  • Similar regulatory framework
  • Scottish and UK brands have a positive reputation
  • Good transport links, including low cost flights

What Scotland exports to Italy

Italy is Scotland’s 10th largest export market with exports worth £760 million in 2017, representing 2.3% of Scottish exports. (Export Statistics Scotland) 

The top 5 Scottish export sectors to Italy are:

  • Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing
  • Food and Drink
  • Technology, Digital and Media 
  • Chemical and Life Sciences
  • Financial and Business Services

Priority sectors in Italy for economic development include:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Defence and Security
  • Education and Life Sciences

Sectoral Opportunities

When compared to the export performance of comparator countries (Norway, Finland, Ireland and Denmark), Italy presents potential export opportunities in the following subsectors: • Financial Services

  • Food
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Computer and IT services
  • Machinery and Equipment
  • Manufacture of Computer, Electronic and Optical Products 
  • Transport equipment

Infographic showing top opportunities for Italy

Existing in-market support for Scottish businesses in Italy


Scottish Development International has an office in Milan with 1 member of staff who focuses on the consumer industries sector. 

Global Scot

There are currently 4 GlobalScots in Italy covering the financial services and energy sectors. Italy is a priority country for expansion of the GlobalScot network.

Department for International Trade

Contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Italy for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Italy.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Italy is able to offer member businesses advice and support as well as in-market introductions. 

University links

Italy is one of the leading EU research collaborators with Scotland. Horizon 2020 funded 

ZikAlliance – an international project between the University of Glasgowand the Edmund Mach Institute in Italyto investigate clinical and other aspects of the Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Academia Nazionale dei Linceito facilitate research collaboration in all areas between research groups in Scotland and Italy. 

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