Record trade surplus in 2016, Padoan vows more reform

Luminosity Italia

Italy’s trade surplus hit a record 51.6 billion euros in 2016, according to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) released on Feb. 16, the highest since it started tracking the figure in 1991, rising from a surplus of 41.8 billion in 2015.

If energy imports are excluded, the trade surplus was 78 billion last year, driven by exports to other EU countries, which rose 3 percent. The value of imports into Italy in 2016 fell 1.4 percent from the year previous, ISTAT said.

The figures were released just a few days after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projected a modest recovery in the Italian economy over in the next two years with a 1 percent growth target both in 2017 and 2018.
Italian GDP
Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan: OECD “report is justly critical where it needs to be and encouraging where it’s useful to be”.

But the OECD outlook notes that youth unemployment remains high at 40 percent compared to an average of 13 percent for developed countries, while productivity has been dropping since 2004.

The report presented by Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan showed the country is still in the reform process.

“This report is justly critical where it needs to be and encouraging where it’s useful to be,” said Padoan.

The OECD identified four key challenges for Italy — productivity, recovery in the banking sector, better training and education, and the fight against poverty.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria stressed that the solution is “reforms, reforms, reforms”.

Padoan, an Italian economist who has been the Economy Minister since 2014, was the director of the International Monetary Fund for Italy from 2001 to 2005 and a former vice-secretary general of the OECD. With the backing of his former OECD colleagues he said he redoubling efforts to reduce national debt because “a country with high debt cannot grow stably”.

“In two letters that we sent to (EU headquarters in) Brussels, we wrote that we are evaluating a series of measures for revenue and outflow — I want to reaffirm this,” said Padoan.