According to statistics provided by Assocomaplast, the Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing Machinery and Molds Manufacturers’ Association, Italian imports and exports for the sector recorded new gains in the first half of 2012 with respect to the same period in 2011. Imports, albeit slowing compared to previous quarters, grew by 6%, approaching 300 million euros, indicating a persistent and extreme weakness of the domestic market.
A marked increase, at 11%, was witnessed in exports. After a relative weakening in early 2012, sales abroad have regained momentum, particularly in the second quarter, exceeding 1.23 billion euros overall. This has produced measurable improvement in the balance of trade for Italian machinery sector, which has reached figures well in excess of 900 million euros. Regarding the principal types of machinery exported, extruders, accounting for roughly 12% of the total, continue to record double-digit growth, approaching 20 percentage points with respect to last year. Approximately half of the extrusion lines sold abroad were directed to within Europe.
Blow molding machines and molds, which represent 28% of the total, also observed good performance, as exports were increased by 16% and 28% respectively. However, exports of injection machines were down by 14% primarily due to a slump in European sales, particularly Russia. From a regional perspective, sales of machines and molds are climbing in the Americas, especially in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) area, with Mexico leading the surge. Brazil, on the other hand, represents an exception. The economy there has recently shown signs of a loss in momentum, and this is coupled with difficulties of access for many manufacturers due to high customs duties, Assocomaplast reports. Sales are also climbing in Europe, especially in extra-EU markets.
And although the values are significantly lower, exportation is also increasing toward African countries, especially those in the sub-Saharan area and to Oceania. On the contrary, stagnation is witnessed in sales to Far Eastern markets as a result of lower Chinese and Indian demand, while exports to the Near and Middle East are falling. The association believes it is due to the unstable social and political situation there, compounded by export restrictions to countries such as Iran and Syria.
The ranking of the top five destination countries for Italian exports of machines, equipment, and molds for plastics and rubber in the first half of 2012 is as follows: Germany (14.7% of the total; +9% with respect to the first half of 2011), France (6.3%; +5%), Russia (5.5%; +61%), United States (5.5%; +10%), China (5.1%; -7%).