Economy in Italy

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Economy—overview: Since World War II the Italian economy has changed from one based on agriculture into a ranking industrial economy with approximately the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This basically capitalistic economy is still divided into a developed industrial north dominated by private companies and a less developed agricultural south with large public enterprises and more than 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and over 75% of energy requirements must be imported. In the second half of 1992 Rome became unsettled by the prospect of not qualifying to participate in EU plans for economic and monetary union later in the decade; thus it finally began to address its huge fiscal imbalances. Subsequently the government has adopted fairly stringent budgets abandoned its inflationary wage indexation system and started to scale back its generous social welfare programs including pension and health care benefits. In November 1996 the lire rejoined the European monetary system which it had left in September 1992 when under extreme pressure in currency markets. Italy faces the problem of restructuring its economy to meet Maastricht criteria for inclusion in the EMU together with other problems of refurbishing a tottering communications system curbing industrial pollution and adjusting to new EU and global competitive forces.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.24 trillion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 1.5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$21 500 (1997 est.

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 3.3%

industry: 33%

services: 63.7% (1994)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.9% (1997 est.)

Labor force:

total: 22.851 million

by occupation: services 61% industry 32% agriculture 7% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 12.2% (December 1997 est.)


revenues: $416 billion

expenditures: $506 billion including capital expenditures of $47 billion (1996 est.)

Industries: tourism machinery iron and steel chemicals food processing textiles motor vehicles clothing footwear ceramics

Industrial production growth rate: 0.5% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 57.186 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 225.179 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 4 509 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: fruits vegetables grapes potatoes sugar beets soybeans grain olives; meat and dairy products; fish catch of 525 000 metric tons in 1990


total value: $250.8 billion (f.o.b. 1996)

commodities: metals textiles and clothing production machinery motor vehicles transportation equipment chemicals

partners: EU 53.4% US 7.8% OPEC 3.8%


total value: $190 billion (c.i.f. 1996)

commodities: industrial machinery chemicals transport equipment petroleum metals food agricultural products

partners: EU 45.5% OPEC 4.8% US 4.3%

Debt—external: $45 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:

donor: ODA $3.043 billion (1993)

Currency: 1 Italian lira (Lit) = 100 centesimi

Exchange rates: Italian lire (Lit) per US$1—1 787.7 (January 1998) 1 703.1 (1997) 1 542.9 (1996) 1 628.9 (1995) 1 612.4 (1994) 1 573.7 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

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