Italian exports are trailing further behind emerging countries like China and India, as the latter two pile on the pressure in the shirt, shoe, and high-tech markets. In the face of growing competition, Italy has seen its share of world trade slide from 4.6 per cent in 2001 to 3.1 per cent in 2004, according to recent figures from the Istituto del Commercio Estero (Italys foreign trade institute). After two years of falling exports, 2004 showed some signs of improvements, with exports up 6.1 per cent in terms of value, and up 1.7 per cent in terms of quantity. But over the same period, international trade increased by 21 per cent, showing just how far Italy is trailing behind. Deputy minister for productive activities, Adolfo Urso, also responsible for foreign trade, said Italy was in a dark forest. But he was optimistic about the good progress shown by mechanical and food exports and said Italys medium-sized companies were leading the way by proving highly competitive.