European machinery associations upbeat about growth; appoint respective new Boards

German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers (VDMA) expect sales to rise by 4% in real terms in the current year, with a 2% increase anticipated for 2016, taking sales above the EUR7 billion mark for the first time.

Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the Association, explaining the trend, said the year 2014 ended with output 1.6% lower and exports at around the previous year’s level (down 0.1). “Last year, business in Europe made up for declines in other sales regions,” reports Thorsten Kühmann, the Association’s Managing Director. “At present things seem to have bottomed out in India and an upturn is in sight. Brazil and Mexico have also shown signs of recovery in the last few months. After pausing for breath in 2014, we expect the industry’s two most important customer markets, China and the US, to recover with moderate rates of growth. Exports to Russia on the other hand are set to decline further. But we still expect the other sales markets in Eastern Europe to remain buoyant.”

Orders received from customers in Germany recovered sharply last year and, after years on a downward trajectory, accounted for an 18% increase in the order intake of German machinery manufacturers. Growth rates were appreciably higher than those of orders from abroad. “Our foreign competitors also benefited from growing demand in Germany,” says Ulrich Reifenhäuser. “After declining for a number of years, imports of plastics and rubber machinery by customers in Germany rose by an impressive 19.5% in 2014.”

The most recent figures show that German plastics and rubber machinery was exported to 156 countries around the world, including for the first time to such exotic sales markets as the Maldives and the Marshall Islands. With export volumes unchanged from the previous year, the German share of growing world trade in plastics and rubber machinery fell slightly to 23.8%. China follows far behind with a share of 12.9%; however, Chinese export volumes include foreign deliveries by German manufacturers based in that country.

For the new term, VDMA has also appointed Ulrich Reifenhäuser as its Chairman and Peter Steinbeck, Managing Director of Windmöller & Hölscher KG, as his deputy.

Italian machinery moves up the scale, slowly

Assocomaplast, the Italian trade association, underscored once again that 2014 was a year of substantial recovery for the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery industry, with production estimated at EUR4 billion (+2.6% with respect to 2013) and exports growing by 5% (to EUR2.68 billion).

In his closing speech to the member assembly, outgoing Assocomaplast president Giorgio Colombo, said, “The result achieved last year for sales abroad, which generally represent over 70% of revenues, and up to 90% for some companies, was followed by positive signals in the domestic market. Indeed, the most recent economic data provided by the Assocomaplast Research Centre show recovery in production levels for Italian converters and improvement in order-books for machinery builders, both in terms of consolidated data and in the 3-4-month forecasts. As regards employment, we are finally witnessing a reversal of trend, almost completely overcoming the need for unemployment compensation and – better yet – actually initiating a search for new workers.”

And it was with these optimistic words – echoed also by Prime Minister Renzi in his message of well-wishing to the presidents of Assocomaplast and Federazione Gomma Plastica – that Giorgio Colombo gave the floor to the new president Alessandro Grassi.

“I am honoured to assume the role of Assocomaplast President,” stated Grassi. “My work shall continue along the lines established by my predecessors, starting with my friend Giorgio Colombo. There are many complex challenges ahead but I am sure we will rise to the occasion thanks to the collaboration not only of the Council and the Executive Committee but also of our general membership – it being one of my prime objectives to get them more involved in the life of the association.”


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