SACE report says 2017 exports to MENA worth 42 bn, up 1.2%

Positive outlook, led by Qatar, Morocco and Tunisia

13 June, 13:16

    ROME - Italian exports to countries in the Middle East and North Africa in 2017 totaled 42 billion euros in 2017, up 1.2% on the previous year, according to a report by Italian credit export agency SACE, titled "Keep Calm and Made in Italy", presented in Milan.

    SACE analysts said last year's positive trend was held aloft above all by exports to Turkey, which were up 5.2% in 2017 on 2016 figures, despite the weakened lira there.

    Growth in exports to Turkey is expected to continue in the coming years, with estimates predicting 6% growth in 2018 and an average 3.9% growth in the following three years, "thanks to the fiscal impulse of the 34-billion-dollar incentive package on 23 strategic projects, from which an occupational return of more than 130,000 units is expected," the report said.

    In the Gulf region, the diplomatic isolation of Qatar by other countries in the area has caused Italian exports to soar.

    SACE analysts said isolation has brought Qatar to "remodel its supply chain, no longer being able to trade with boycotting countries" and that "increases the potential of direct exports from Italy to Doha, with very positive growth estimates in the medium-term (up 9.6% in 2018 with an average 7.6% growth in the three-year period of 2019-2021)".

    Among the small monarchies in the region, the United Arab Emirates is the top export destination in the area (5.3 billion euros in 2017), despite a slight drop last year.

    Italian exports to the UAE will be positive this year (with growth estimated to increase 2.7%), strengthening in the coming years (estimated 3.2% average growth from 2019-2021) following demand tied to public works projects, such as Expo 2020.

    A similar trend is expected in Saudi Arabia, where contraction in 2017 will give way to a sustained recovery from higher oil revenues and large infrastructure projects tied to the "Vision 2030" economic diversification programme.

    The programme is expected to bring a 3.2% increase in Italian exports in 2018 and an average 3.8% growth rate from 2019-2021.

    In North Africa, the SACE report showed a positive result in Italian exports to Tunisia, which grew 9.3% in 2017.

    In 2018, estimates foresee 3.4% growth, with 2.8% average growth from 2019-2021.

    In Egypt, the effects of the macroeconomic correction were absorbed in the last two-year period, which led to a 5.5% contraction in Italian exports.

    A new increase, led by local and foreign investment, is expected in 2018, with growth estimated at 4.9%, and more than 4% from 2019-2021.

    The report said exports to Morocco are expected to maintain recent growth trends, with growth estimated at 9.2% in 2018 and 6.8% on average from 2019-2021.

    Exports to Algeria are expected to slow due to restrictions on purchasing goods from abroad, which were enacted through a temporary ban on non-essential goods as well as an increase in customs duties (2% growth in 2018, 2.8% average growth from 2019-2021).(ANSAmed).

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