International trade rules

Export controls

What export controls limit international trade in defence and security articles? Who administers them?

The limitation of international trade in defence and security is due to intense and strict controls. Export is subject to various layers of national control performed by different authorities, such as the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and also by the customs authorities.

The Italian legal framework also presents a regulation concerning the export and import process for defence and security assets: Law No. 185/1990 and its implementing act, Ministerial Decree No. 19/2013, set out conditions governing goods transfer related to the defence field. A special authorisation is required in case of trade for non-EU countries (see article 11 Law No. 185/1990). Moreover, other elements, such as the slow decision-making process in issues concerning defence and security in the international or European market, create limitations to international trade in this field.

Domestic preferences

What domestic preferences are applied to defence and security procurements? Can a foreign contractor bid on a procurement directly?

Domestic rules that apply to defence and security procurements contracts are:

  • Legislative Decree No. 50/2016 concerning public procurements, which implements European Directive 2014/23/UE, 2014/24/UE and Directive 2014/25/UE;
  • Regulation No. 49 of 13/03/2013, which governs Defence Ministry activities related to defence and security works, services and supplies; and
  • Legislative Decree No. 208/2011, which provides defence and security contracts procurements and which implements Directive 2009/81/EC.

Such rules also apply to foreign companies that have commercial relations with Italy. A foreign contractor can bid directly for a procurement and there is no limit to negotiating or subscribing a procurement contract under Italian law.

Favourable treatment

Are certain treaty partners treated more favourably?

According to the general principles governing administrative proceedings, such as transparency, neutrality and non-discrimination, a potential treaty partner shall not be treated more favourably.


Are there any boycotts, embargoes or other trade sanctions between this jurisdiction and others?

Existing trade sanctions between jurisdictions are those provided by international trade and commercial law. Sanctions are mainly divided into two categories: diplomatic sanctions (measures of withdrawal of diplomatic relations with the state concerned) and the recall of diplomatic representatives of the state. Other sanctions are arms embargoes, restrictions on the admission of ‘state concerned’ persons (listed in specific lists), the freezing of assists and economic sanctions.

Trade offsets

Are defence trade offsets part of this country’s defence and security procurement regime? How are they administered?

Defence trade offsets are part of defence and security procurement regime and are administrated by the Secretary-General or by the National Manager of Armaments delegated by Ministry of Defence, by the Directors of the General Secretariat of National Defence and the National Industry of Defence. Italy also adopted its own coordination policy concerning offsets in defence and security procurement. However, this policy was modified in order to comply with European orientations since the general rule recognised by the European Commission is that offsets are restrictive measures in breach of EU Law principles (ie, free movement of goods and services).