Italy posts bumper trade surplus in March as imports drop


(Reuters) -Italy posted a trade surplus with the rest of the world of 7.5 billion euros ($8.3 billion) in March, as gas imports from Russia continued to decrease, while exports of non-energy products rose, data shows.

The reading, compared with a deficit of 757 million euros in the same month of 2022, was the largest surplus since July 2021, Italian statistics agency ISTAT said on Wednesday.

The data confirmed numbers published by European statistics agency Eurostat on Tuesday.

“Yearly growth in exports slowed down in value terms and, for the first time in over two years, we saw a contraction in imports, quite remarkable, partly due to the fall of natural gas purchases from Russia,” ISTAT said in a note.

Imports in March fell by 9.8% compared to the same month last year, with a yearly drop of 92% and 34% from Russia and China respectively.


Exports still rose 4.7% yearly in March, mainly due to increased sale of non-energy products to countries outside the European Union, as the institute reported earlier this month.

Sales to China soared unexpectedly in the first quarter, hitting a record peak in February, thanks to a surge in demand for a liver drug that might also help prevent COVID-19, officials said last week.

Trade data has a significant seasonal component and there has not been a larger Italian surplus in the month of March since the introduction of the euro in 1999, Eurostat figures showed.

With European Union countries, Italy registered a March trade deficit of 916 million euros, compared with a deficit of 36 million euros in March 2022. ($1 = 0.9084 euros)

(Reporting by Luca Fratangelo, Carlo Giovanni Boffa, Alessandro Parodi, Chiara Bontacchio; editing by Gavin Jones/Keith Weir)