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TRADE

Car sales help boost Italy’s exports

Italy's trade surplus rose to €2.6 billion in February thanks to a sharp increase in exports within Europe, particularly of cars, official data showed on Wednesday.

Car sales help boost Italy's exports
Car sales have helped to boost Italy's exports. Photo: Jorge Felix/Flickr

Italy, with the third-biggest economy in the eurozone after Germany and France, is struggling to introduce reforms to strengthen its economy and competitiveness and to underpin its exporting industries.

Exports were up 3.0 percent in value on a 12-month comparison, with a 5.3 percent increase for exports in the European Union.

Export volumes also rose by 3.7 percent, the Istat agency said.

Imports meanwhile contracted by 2.2 percent on a 12-month comparison because of the crisis and a fall in consumer spending.

The biggest rise in exports was to Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and there were also major rises in sales to Belgium, Britain, China, Germany and the United States.

The biggest rise in exports was for the carmakers, which saw a 13.9 percent in crease from February 2013, Istat said.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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