© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A containers area is seen in the port of Palermo, Italy July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo
By Gabriel Araujo
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Italy’s exports to Latin America’s largest economies are expected to grow by about 5% in 2024 even as it pushes for a landmark European Union trade pact with several South American countries that could turbocharge trade growth, according to Italian export credit agency SACE.
Italian companies’ shipments to Brazil are slated to grow 4.5% in 2024 from the previous year to an all-time high of 5.3 billion euros ($5.38 billion), while exports to Mexico would jump 5.5% to 6.4 billion euros, multiple SACE documents shared with Reuters showed.
The agency believes a re-industrialization push by Brazil will represent a chance for firms to sell it more machinery after an export slump in the last decade, while environmental-friendly initiatives related to the energy transition are also seen as an opportunity.
Export growth could be more accentuated if the European Union and the Mercosur bloc of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay finalize their long awaited trade agreement.
Italy and Germany are among major EU economies to have voiced support for the deal, while France is against it.
“It would be obviously very good,” SACE’s Americas head Pauline Sebok told Reuters, noting companies often complain about the tax barriers they face in Brazil, which the agency describes as “one of the champions of trade protectionism.”
Machinery represents the bulk of Italian exports to Brazil but lost some ground in the last decade due to a slowdown in Brazil’s industrial production.
That also hurt trade, with Italian exports to Brazil – its second-largest trade partner in the Americas behind the U.S. – only recovering last year to 2013 levels before Brazil’s economic crisis.
But Brazil’s seventh-largest goods supplier now thinks the South American country’s ambition to re-industrialize and be a leader in the energy transition will help the EU member’s exports grow an average of 3.6% in 2025 and 2026, SACE said.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government has pledged to boost industrialization by incentivizing “green” projects including flex-fuel and electric vehicles, renewable power and biofuels, although factory output remained roughly stagnant this year.
SACE, which offers credit insurance aimed at boosting the country’s exports, recently signed off on a 300 million-euro “green” loan led by BNP Paribas (OTC:) to Raizen as the Brazilian company develops second-generation ethanol plants.
“We will be looking at all types of ESG-related investments,” Sebok said. “But also traditional equipment for the manufacturing industry, which is part of our core business.”
Italian companies with major operations in Latin America include power giant Enel (BIT:), telecom operator Telecom Italia (BIT:), Stellantis-onwed automaker Fiat and industrial conglomerate Leonardo.
In Mexico, according to SACE, the recent boom of industrial investments driven by the so-called “nearshoring” trend of relocating businesses closer to the U.S. would contribute to higher Italian exports, driven by factory machine tools.
On top of the 5.5% growth next year, the agency estimates increases of 3.6% in 2025 and 4% in 2026, which would take the value of shipments close to 7 billion euros.