Portrait of the Regions - ITALY - EMILIA-ROMAGNA - Economy

Portrait of the Regions - ITALY - EMILIA-ROMAGNA - Economy


The combination of traditional products and technological innovation

Emilia-Romagna's contribution to the gross value added of Italy is 8.8% (in 2000) whereas its population is 6.9% of the national total. Per capita GDP is above the national average and represents 129% of the EU average. Emilia-Romagna is, in fact, the second region in Italy after Lombardia in terms of GDP per capita.

A feature of the regional economy is the close interplay of production activities fostered by the modern services sector. Value-added in the service sector amounts to 63% (of which 36% for market services, mainly services provided for other firms). The business structure of the region is based on a dense network of small and medium-sized firms, of which there were 319 000 in June 1990 (8.7% of the national total). A breakdown of this figure shows that the distributive trades are the largest sector (129 000 firms), followed by manufacturing (69 000) and building and construction (36 000).

Alongside the region's traditional products (foodstuffs, ceramics, clothing, mechanical engineering), several new areas of production have emerged: robotics, biomedicine, graphic arts, etc.

In spite of the depth and variety of industrial activities in the region, agriculture has not been eclipsed. Emilia-Romagna is among the leading regions in the country, with farming contributing 5.8% of the regional agricultural product. The agricultural sector has aimed for increased competitiveness by means of structural reorganisation and high-quality products, and this has led to the success of marketed brands. Farm cooperatives have been working along these lines in recent years. With their long tradition in the region there are now about 8 100 cooperatives, generally in the agricultural sector and mainly located in the provinces of Bologna (2 160) and Forli (1 300).

The region's economic strength spans three sectors

Agriculture has a central role in the economy of the region thanks to the process of industrialisation.

Industry in the region presents a varied and complex picture and is located along the Via Emilia. The old Roman road runs from Sassuolo (ceramics) to Rimini, where furniture and clothing production exists alongside the main tourism-related activities. The regional economy is more geared to export markets than other regions in the country: the main exports are from mechanical engineering (53%), the extraction of non-metalliferous minerals (13%) and the clothing industry (10%).

There is a strong link between industrial development and the growth of the services sector, which took off in the early 1970s. In the first half of 1989 the quality services sector (comprising wholesale trade, broking, hotels and catering, transport and communications, banking and insurance and business-related services) accounted for 50% of the region's firms.

The region of Emilia-Romagna benefits of a very good system of transport, with 574 km of motorways, 1053 km of railways and airports in Bologna, Forli and Rimini. The main motorway crosses the region from north-west (Piacenza) to the south-east (Adriatic coast), connecting the main cities of Parma, Modena, Bologna, and from here further to Ravenna and to Rimini.


Text finalised in March 2004