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Shadows Loom Over Italy’s Growing Trade Surplus


Once again, Italy’s balance of trade shows a growing surplus with the rest of the world.

In July, Italy posted a trade surplus of €6.9 billion, up from €6.0 billion in July 2013, according to Istat’s official data.

Once again, Italy’s balance of trade shows a growing surplus with the rest of the world.

In July, Italy posted a trade surplus of €6.9 billion, up from €6.0 billion in July 2013, according to Istat’s official data.

Photo REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Yet the economic headlines from the euro-zone’s third-largest economy remain bleak, and now both the IMF and the OECD project Italy’s gross domestic product will contract for the third consecutive year in 2014.

Too often Italy’s media and politicians exult in the trade surplus as if it were proof that local manufacturers and their ‘made in Italy’ wares are a rocksolid foundation. Unfortunately, the data suggest that termites remain on the job and are undermining Italy’s industrial fabric.

Despite the growing surplus, Italy’s exports fell 1.6% from June. What propped up the surplus was the bigger 2.5% fall in imports.

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