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Italy - Country Profile

Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less developed, welfare-dependent agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions. But the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: the budget has breached the 3% EU deficit ceiling.

Economic Statistics
Exports : $336.4 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Commodities :
engineering products, textiles and clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals; food, beverages and tobacco; minerals and nonferrous metals
Germany 13.6%, France 12.3%, US 8%, Spain 7.2%, UK 6.9%, Switzerland 4.2% (2004)
Imports $329.3 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Commodities :
engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals and nonferrous metals, textiles and clothing; food, beverages and tobacco
Partners :
Germany 18%, France 10.9%, Netherlands 5.9%, Spain 4.6%, Belgium 4.4%, UK 4.3%, China 4.2% (2004)