Italian exports jumped 6.2% in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018. Once again, exports grew more than the other GDP components. After the record year of 2017, our trade balance recorded a positive figure of over 35 billion euros between January and September of this year. The highest growth in Italian exports was in markets outside the European Union, with Japan leading. Italian exports grew 20.2% in the first few months of implementation of the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement.
The main industries were pharmaceuticals (+29.2%), leather tanning (+9.3%), clothing (+7.1%) and food, drink and tobacco products (+7%). There has been a strong promotional push by the Italian Government and business system in the agricultural and food industry in recent years; one of the most successful initiatives has been the Week of Italian Cuisine in the world, which reached its fourth edition in 2019. These figures are very encouraging in light of the difficult international context and protectionist tensions affecting the global market.
Economic diplomacy is increasingly at the heart of the actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation following recent reforms that streamlined skills in foreign trade, promotion and internationalisation of the economic system.