If you’re an importer seeking to bring products from Italy into Australia for your business, there are a few things you should know. From researching the market and choosing your supplier, to considering the different shipping methods and ensuring you have the correct documentation, the process can be a bit complicated.
We’ve put together the ultimate beginners’ guide on importing from Italy. We’ll discuss Italy’s top commodities, and how you should go about organising your import. We’ll also consider the advantages of working with an expert freight forwarder to ensure your shipment goes smoothly.
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What the Italian Market Offers
Italy offers a rich and diverse marketplace, providing a varied range of goods and commodities. The country is known for high quality products and is a popular market for Australia. In 2019, Australia’s top imports from Italy were machinery, vehicles, electricals, and pharmaceutical products.
Below, we’ll list some of the country’s top items that you could consider importing for your business.
- Machinery including computers: Italy exported approximately US$101.1 billion worth of machinery (including computers) in 2019. This accounted for around 19 per cent of Italy’s exports. Italy prides itself on a legacy of machine manufacturing, with companies such as the Sacmi Group and Pietro Carnaghi producing a range of popular machinery for packaging, food processing, vertical grinding and more. Australia alone imported around US$1.28 billion worth of machinery from Italy in 2019.
- Vehicles: Italy exported around US$41.4 billion (or around 7.8 per cent of their total exports) in 2019. Italy is well known for its stylish vehicle brands, including Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari and the Lamborghini. In 2018, it was reported that Italy was enjoying “automotive fortunes” in Australia.
- Pharmaceuticals: Italy exported around US$33.6 billion worth of pharmaceuticals in 2019, accounting for about 6.3 per cent of their total exports. Italy is the Europe’s largest pharmaceutical producer, overtaking Germany in 2019, and has been hailed as an international success story. Between 2010 to 2017, Italy’s pharmaceutical exports skyrocketed to a 26% annual growth rate (compared to the European Union’s average of 1%).
- Electrical machinery and equipment: Italy exported about US$31.8 billion worth of electrical machinery and equipment in 2019. Australia imported around $333.52 million worth of this machinery.
Choosing your supplier in Italy
As in any business, relationships are key in Italy. Italians have quite a traditional approach to business, with personal relationships and face-to-face meetings highly important for developing strong business connections.
When selecting the right supplier, there are a few things to consider, such as:
- the minimum order quantity of the goods you are purchasing;
- sample price ranges;
- turnaround time;
- payment terms; and
- how willing your supplier is to negotiate?
For more information about picking the right supplier for your business, have a read of our detailed guide on sourcing international suppliers and partners.
We here at ICE have a dedicated Italian Manager that works in Italy and can liaise with your suppliers directly. This provides you with some reassurance when managing freight from across the globe. Our Italian Manager speaks fluent English and Italian and is the perfect bridge for facilitating information and building relationships locally.
Consider your shipping methods from Italy
It’s important to think carefully about the method of shipping your goods from Italy to Australia. You can either ship by air freight, ocean freight or a mixture of both.
- Air freight – Whilst services are less frequent due to COVID-19, we can offer weekly airfreight with Cathay Pacific with quick transit times into Melbourne and Sydney at competitive prices. If you are already shipping via air freight, contact us for comparative pricing as you will find our current rates to be very attractive.
- Sea freight – You can also consider shipping your goods into Australia by ocean freight. These services are cheaper, but they will take longer and are not appropriate for urgent imports. We have dedicated contract space with MSC and can offer you great options on both direct and transhipment services.
- Air-sea solutions – We offer unique air-sea solutions to ship cargo, using a mixture of both air freight and sea freight to take advantage of both.
Make sure to check out our Italy trade lane page. You’ll see that we’ve got an in-house Italian representative and can arrange for direct sailings leaving La Spezia. This means your cargo can get to Australia in just 36 days.
You can also read more about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of shipping method in our blog about air freight and sea freight.
Getting the documentation correct
One of the most important aspects of shipping is the documentation involved. Not having all the correct documentation in order can cause delays and may even result in extra costs for your business.
The general shipping documents you need include:
- Commercial invoice – this shows who is buying what good and from whom, as well as the terms agreed between you and your Italian supplier.
- Packing Declaration – Packing declarations are only necessary for sea freight shipments, declaring what kind of material has been used to pack goods. There are two kinds of packing declarations, one being a single sea freight shipment declaration and the other being an annual declaration (which lasts for twelve months).
- Packing list – this list will outline the details of your goods including, most importantly, how the shipment is packed.
- BMSB Fumigation Certificate – If you are shipping your cargo during stink bug season and your commodity falls into Target High Risk or Target Risk categories you will need to check stink bug season regulations and arrange for treatment and certification.
- Commodity specific documentation – You may need specific documentation depending on the type of commodity you’re importing from Italy. For instance, if you’re importing food, you may need documentation like import permits or health certificates. You can read our guide on importing food here and our guide on importing furniture here.
Work with ICE and Albini Pitigliani – Experts on Italy Trade Lane
There’s a lot that can go wrong in international shipping, so it’s always best to leave it with the experts.
Here at ICE, we’re corporate partners of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, specialists in Italian trade in Australia. Working with ICE means you’ll have access to the best knowledge in the business, so you can be confident your import from Italy is in the best hands.
Our overseas partner Albini & Pitigliani (also known as Alpi) are professional international freight forwarders who’ve been in the industry for over 70 years. You can rest assured your suppliers are being taken care of and our dedicated trade manager will be on hand to help throughout.
An Italy-Australia Free Trade Agreement?
Despite the good trade relations between our countries, there is currently no free trade agreement between Italy and Australia.
Negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union were initiated in 2018. This will be significant for Australia as the EU is our third largest trading partner. You can read more about these negotiations on DFAT’s website.
The ninth round of negotiations took place from 30 November to 11 December 2020, involving 60 EU negotiations. The parties discussed a range of important topics for Australian importers, including trade and rules of origin.
Once the Agreement is finalised, the Italian market could become even more accessible for Australian importers.
Whilst there is no free trade agreement as of yet, there are still a range of regulations you must comply with. Having a good freight forwarder and customs broker that knows these requirements will save you money ensuring you get it right the first time and protecting you from potential delays.
If you’re looking for further information on importing from Italy, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team here at International Cargo Express. You can give us a call or leave a message below.