Italian Plastics Machinery Market Is Recovering
Assocomaplast (Italian trade association, member of Confindustria, bringing together over 160 manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery, equipment and moulds), through its Statistical Studies Center, has completed its year-end balance sheet for 2016, incorporating foreign trade data from ISTAT (Italian Institute of Statistics).
The Italian plastics and rubber machinery market finally showed some strength in 2016, some eight years after the global financial crisis sent the domestic processing industry into recession. “In making a comparison with 2015 one immediately notes a new historical record for exports,” states a satisfied Alessandro Grassi, President of Assocomaplast. “They are approaching three billion euros, racking up an increase of 1.7%.”
There was even greater progress in imports, exceeding 12%, the outcome of a trend that continued to increase all along the year, reaching a total of EUR 850 million. “Here too,” underscores Grassi, “we are looking at levels we have never seen before, confirming signs that the domestic market is regaining altitude after many – too many – years of stagnation.” Robust growth was seen in purchases of injection molding machines (+37%, much from Germany, Austria and Japan), extrusion machines (+39%, from Austria, Belgium and Germany) and blow molding machines (+118%, from France and Germany). As regards production, in the absence of official data, Assocomaplast estimates that revenues for the sector in 2016 had returned to pre-crisis levels, exceeding EUR 4.2 billion.
Concerning exports, which absorb over 70% of production, sales of the following categories have been particularly significant, according to Assocomaplast: injection molding machines (+18%), extruders (+5%) and thermoforming machines (+10%), just to cite some of the main types of systems for primary processing. In terms of macro regions, an analysis of the geography of exports reveals the following:
- A decrease in share to European markets, dragged down principally by less-than-stellar sales to countries outside of the EU.
- An increase of share to Asia, with Iran and Saudi Arabia ensuring sales to the Middle East, and China, India and South Korea driving those to the Far East
- Overall progress in exports to North America thanks to +70% to Mexico.
In greater detail, in the top ten destination markets, the Italian plastics machinery industry records double-digit growth in sales of Italian technology to Mexico (leaping from eighth to third place, +71%), Poland (fourth, +13%), China (fifth, +12%) and Spain (sixth, +18%). The German market, historically Italy’s number one trading arena, maintains its value (+2% over 2015) while it is -11% for the United States, where a slowdown in exports began around the middle of last year. Both Russia and Brazil show persistent negative signs, with -18% and -38%, respectively. India, on the other hand, surprised with a 45% increase and is now in eleventh position, which is particularly significant if the complexity of this market is considered.
The most recent survey conducted by Assocomaplast among its members reveals a good trend in orders, with 43% of respondents foreseeing improvements in the current half year over July-December 2016, and a similar proportion expecting also to see an upturn in revenues.
Expectations in the industry for 2017 are thus rather positive, further buoyed by the measures to support investment in capital equipment – super-amortization, hyper-amortization, the new Sabatini law, tax deductions for R&D – implemented also as part of the National Plan Industry 4.0.
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