In a “watershed” year like 2021, where on the one hand the strong rebound of the global economy is driving but the uncertainty of the covid variants weighs on the other, national exports of goods are racing and recovering pre-pandemic levels. This is said by the Export Report 2021 of the Sace Research Department and entitled “Back to the future: anatomy of a post-pandemic recovery”, now in its 15th edition.
For Italian exports of goods in value, a rebound of 11.3% is expected, which will allow a full return to pre-pandemic levels already in 2021. Sales of Made in Italy goods will in fact reach 482 billion euros, and then continue to increase by 5.4% in 2022 and settle on an average growth of 4% in the following two years. This pace, almost one percentage point higher than the pre-crisis average rate (+ 3.1%, on an annual average, between 2012 and 2019), will make it possible to reach the value of 550 billion euros in exports of goods in 2024.
“Exports are an essential component of our production system” and “have always played an important role in the Italian economy”, says Daniele Franco, Minister of Economy and Finance. reiterating that exports are “crucial”. “Sace – he continues – for many years has played an important role in supporting our exports” and “must help Italian companies to position themselves abroad in market segments with high added value”.
The unknown variants
The Sace Research Department then presented an alternative forecast scenario to the basic one. With “new variants”, according to Sace, the recovery of the global economy would inevitably slow down with a return to the restrictive measures to contain the contagion and a deterioration in the confidence of businesses and households. This scenario, albeit with a lower probability of occurrence, envisages a lower initial growth followed by a marked decline compared to the base model. The repercussions on the value of Italian exports of goods would be significant and concentrated mainly in the next year. In this scenario, the growth of our exports would be more limited this year (+ 7.2%) and practically nil in 2022. The full recovery of Made in Italy sales in foreign markets would therefore be postponed to 2023.
Franco: intense recovery but uncertainties remain
Franco then speaks of “an intense recovery phase” that our country is experiencing, but warns that “there are uncertainties in the economic outlook”. The recovery, in fact, “is supported by the reopening of economic activities and also by the economic policy measures implemented in Italy and in the international context” and “vaccination processes represent an essential component in this recovery process”.
But, according to the minister, “there are uncertainties in the economic outlook; the recovery is intense and ongoing but remains exposed to new waves of the pandemic” for this reason it is “important to proceed with the vaccination process and avoid the spread of the disease”. The most important challenge for economic policy therefore now “is to consolidate this growth process”. According to Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “thanks to a rapid global rebound, particularly in the trade in goods, we are back on track for recovery after the darkest period of the pandemic”.
Pnrr does not solve all problems
Sace then focuses the light on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan which represents “a unique opportunity for post-Covid recovery and the development of our country”. The intensity of the growth of the Italian GDP would be more marked along the forecast horizon, especially in the last three years; in 2025 the national output would increase by 2.7% compared to the basic model, as a reflection of the push for investments and reforms aimed at increasing productivity with positive repercussions on potential GDP. “The PNRR has now entered the implementation phase, it is an important lever to move towards a higher growth path”, Franco explains, emphasizing however that “it does not solve all our problems by itself”. And he stresses: “We must use all the other economic policy instruments available, such as those to support exports”.