Since the second half of the twentieth century, the country’s foreign economic relations  have significantly expanded. The volume of exports exceeded 20% of GDP.

In 2000, the value of commodity exports amounted to 237.8 billion dollars. (3.7% of world exports), according to this indicator, Italy ranked eighth in the world, the value of commodity imports – $ 236.5 billion. (3.5% of world imports) is the seventh place in the world.

More significant are Italy’s positions in world exports and imports of services (4.0% and 3.9%, respectively) – the sixth place in the world. In 2000, exports of services amounted to $56.7 billion and imports to $55.7 billion.

For the economic development of Italy, foreign economic relations are more important than for other developed countries. This is due to a number of circumstances:

1) excess capacity. From the point of view of the domestic market, many industries have excess capacity: the oil refining industry, the automotive industry, the chemical industry, light industry enterprises. All of them largely work for the foreign market;

2) poor availability of basic minerals and food.

The face of Italy in the international division of labor determines the export of machinery and equipment (2/5 of all exports) mainly of medium complexity – cars, some types of machine tools, equipment for pulp and paper, light, food and printing industries, refrigerators and washing machines, electronic household appliances, office equipment. The branches of international specialization also include the textile, clothing, and footwear industries.

A significant role is played by the export of vegetables and fruits.

In imports, 1/5 is occupied by machinery and equipment, primarily complex, as well as chemicals. 15% of imports are oil. The economy’s need for imports of oil, coal, ferrous and non-ferrous metal ores, timber, iron ore, scrap, cotton, wool, and food have caused in the recent past a constant deficit in foreign trade.  However, it is now largely possible  to cover, and sometimes to cover, as it was in 2000 with the help of international tourism, remittances of Italian immigrants, income from sea freight.

Italy’s main trading partners are the EU countries (they account for 57% of its trade turnover). The United States accounts for 7% of the country’s foreign trade turnover. Italy’s trade turnover with Russia has increased. Russia supplies Italy with energy, timber, and ferrous metallurgy products. Trade relations between Italy and the Republic of Belarus are developing. The share of this country in the trade turnover of Belarus in 2001 amounted to 4.61% (249.1 million dollars) – the 7th place among the main trading partners of our country.