In the tertiary sector, as a whole, a large number of sole proprietorships have been created, often characterized by considerable innovative capacities, although heavy job losses have been recorded within the same sector. Recent evolution has in fact presented very different processes in the various sectors of service activities: the traditional sectors (public administration, commerce, transport) have expelled manpower in massive forms, while activities related to tourism have grown; however, it is in particular the set of business and financial services that recorded the most visible increase in activities and employees. As part of the reorganization of the communication infrastructures, it should be noted that it came into operation at the end of 1996, of the port of Gioia Tauro, equipped to become, in the near future, the main center of the Mediterranean for the transhipment of goods through containers, on the route between the Far East, Northern Europe and North America.
Since 1993, national trade has been affected by a cyclical phase characterized by the devaluation and subsequent recent revaluation of the lira. On the export side the annual increases in the value of exports amounted to 15, 7 % in 1994, to 23, 7 % in 1995, all ‘ 1, 5 % in 1996 and to 4.3 % in 1997 ; again in 1997 imports recorded an increase of 10.3% compared to the previous year. With regard to the sectoral composition of exports, in 1997 the products of metalworking constituted 35.8 % of the total; the footwear and the textile and clothing products covered the 16, 5 %; a sector composed of wood, paper and rubber, 12, 8 %. As for export destination areas, the weight of advanced economy countries has been changing, stable in the period between 1993 and 1995 and still increasing (+ 3.6 %) in 1997., with a strong downsizing of the share absorbed by the countries of the European Union. Among the developing countries are those of new industrialization – in particular in East and South-East Asia – which acquire increasing shares of our exports; similar trends appear in the countries of central and eastern Europe.
Among the Italian regions, those that have made an increasing contribution to exports in the 1992 – 97 phase are Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany and, in the background, Abruzzo, Marche, Umbria and Molise. (the latter in particular between 1996 and 1997). The dynamics of exports therefore seem to conform, confirming in some respects the territorial characterization, to the industrial development model that has taken original and increasingly diversified forms in the North-East and along the northern Adriatic route, on the basis of competitive production, often of niche (especially in mechanics), which made it possible to enhance, also thanks to opportunities opened by the devaluation of the lira, the already consolidated vocation of the Italian export industry: in 1997, in fact, foreign markets represented the main destination for over the 30 % of companies operating in the industrial districts, while in those same markets turned less than 20% of the total manufacturing firms in the country.
Another aspect of considerable significance for the development of the conditions of internationalization in which the productive and commercial relations of our country take place concerns the increase in economic relations with Eastern Europe, to be linked to the affirmation of production relocation processes, which it has already been mentioned. Veneto, in particular, presented extremely lively dynamics of transfer abroad of raw materials, technologies and / or branches of local companies, with subsequent re-importation of goods after processing: in the entire region the product sectors concerned concerned in 1997 especially footwear, textile-clothing and leather products, as well as typical sectors of some provincial areas, such as woodworking and furniture (Padua), printing-publishing and photographic productions (Verona), automotive and precision mechanics products (Venice, Verona and Treviso). The areas of destination were, at the same date, above all Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, the Maghreb countries, those of South-East Asia, China.
Tourism has confirmed its essential role in the country’s economy. In 1998, its numerical consistency (significantly increased compared to the early nineties) was estimated at almost 173 million Italian presences and over 117 million foreign presences. The national tourist offer was based on approximately 1.8 million beds in hotels, approximately 228,000 beds in private accommodation and another 1.3 million in campsites.