The management of natural resources in economic activities has become a fundamental issue when considering the perspective of sustainable development. It is necessary to rethink every process in order to reach efficiency from different points of view, not only environmentally but also economically. Water scarcity is growing because of economic and population growth, climate change, and the increasing water demand. Currently, agri-food represents the most water consumptive sector, and the increasing importance of international trade in this industry puts freshwater issues in a global context that should be analyzed and regulated by sustainable policies. This analysis is focused on virtual water flows and economic water productivity related to the wine trade, and aims to evaluate water loss/savings achieved through bilateral trade relations. The choice fell on Italy, the first wine producer in the world, and the Balkan countries. The latter are new markets for wine production/consumption, in which Italian wines are strongly positioned for different reasons. The results show that, from a national point of view and considering wine trade, Italy exports water in virtual form to the Balkan countries, more than it imports, so that in effect it partially uses its own water resources for the wine supply of the Balkans. The latter, on the other hand, being a net importer of wine, partially depends on Italian water resources and exerts less pressure on their own water basins in the supporting wine supply. We also observed that the wine trade between Italy and the Balkans implies global water savings.
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