The news is in the rightmost column, the one you usually look after, the data on imports. Because that marginal minus sign, a drop of just one point, actually signals the first trend reversal of our non-EU purchases after almost two years of double-digit racing.
The Istat data for January offer a partially new picture, with the drop in energy prices finally creating a situation in which the annual comparison is no longer so dramatic. The last negative sign in the import trend actually occurred for Italy in February 2021. Since then, almost always double-digit growth, first due to the rush of raw materials and electronics, then due to the energy, with prices multiplied n times in a few months.
Situation of declining purchases which in the seasonally adjusted monthly figure for imports had already been visible for a few months (we are now in the fifth consecutive month of slowdown, the latest figure is a robust -9.7%) but which in the annual comparison was not still disclosed.
A couple of phenomena can be observed in the data for individual countries. First of all, the distance from Russia continues, whose sales to Italy are reduced by 67%, almost eliminating the monthly deficit, just under 600 million, from the 2-3 billion per month of the most difficult periods last year . Purchases from the Middle East, another major energy supplier, are still growing but in a less tense way than in the past, an increase of 18.9%.
The other obvious aspect, however, is the slowdown in China, with our purchases from Beijing falling by more than 10%, perhaps the first result of the supply “gap” generated by the latest wave of Covid which at the beginning of the year had still put internal logistics and ports in difficulty.