Italian machinery to China takes a dive in first half of 2013

Italian machinery association Assocomaplast says Italy’s exports of plastics and rubber machinery in the first half of 2013 held “relatively firm”, even though exports dropped by 1.7% to EUR1.2 billion. And exports to China, its sixth largest export market, faced the biggest drop, accounting for 4% of the total exports, compared to 5.1% last year. Exports to Germany (up 0.2% to 14.9%), the US (up 0.5% to 6%) and France (down 0.3% to 6%), the top three destinations, fluctuated marginally, compared to China. In fact, the Polish market has taken over the Chinese market’s slot of fifth largest export market, with an increase of 5.5%, compared to 4.2% last year. In terms of machinery exported, the biggest drop was in thermoforming machines (down 15.8%), blow moulding machines (down 7.4%) and extruders/extrusion lines (down 4.9%) while exports of injection moulding machines increased by 23.8%.

Against the backdrop of political dilemmas and the domestic market situation, the association says that maintaining exports at essentially the same level as in the preceding year “can be regarded as an achievement.” The association also says that “foreign sales in fact followed an intermittent trend over the first six months of 2013 after a decidedly strong start to the year — entrained by the positive close to 2012 — export flows lost some momentum, though without any of the steep declines suffered by other Italian mechanical engineering sectors.”

Imports, meanwhile, dropped by 6.2% to EUR280 million, with the association pointing out that the downturn is an indicator that the domestic market is still struggling to recover. The biggest drop in imports was in thermoforming machines (down 61%), extruders/extrusion lines (down 44.1%) and blow moulding machines (down 38.5%), while imports of flexographic printers increased by a whopping 51.7%.

Nevertheless, the association says that things are looking up since Confindustria indicates that Italy’s GDP will stabilise in the third quarter of the year and even grow slightly (+0.3%) in the final quarter. And an Assocomaplast business survey conducted at the start of September on a sample of plastics and rubber processing companies reveals “a certain degree of optimism”, with processors’ order books up compared to the preceding month and, most importantly, favourable 3-4 month projections.


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