Export is driving the Italian plastics machinery industry, according to Assocomaplast, the Italian plastics and rubber machinery and molds manufacturers’ association. Based on ISTAT foreign trade statistics, production output was driven by exports, with an upward trend that, despite leveling off over the year, enabled Italian equipment manufacturers offset extremely weak domestic demand, says the association. The periodic business climate survey conducted by Assocomaplast on a sample of Italian processors also revealed a steep downturn in the domestic market over the course of 2012, which clearly also curbed the firms’ propensity to invest in new machinery. That said, the most recent three to four month forecast shows a less pessimistic outlook.
According to the latest bimonthly survey conducted by the association among its own members, in the coming months respondents do not expect to see significant changes in orders for equipment. Going back to exports, an analysis of the equipment categories accounting for the most significant shares of the total, excluding the generic and/or aggregate groupings, shows sales of extruders up by nine percentage points, and blow molding machines up by 18 percentage points. Injection molding machines, by contrast, lost their former importance in value terms, with a 20% decline in 2012 compared to 2011, also as a result of certain long-established manufacturers going out of business or experiencing severe difficulties.
The main destination countries for extruders, each accounting for between 22 and 26 million euro in value terms, were Germany, Russia, France and China, with double-digit increases compared to 2011. The advance of blow molding machines can be attributed to much stronger demand from the US. Export value was up from 11 to over 20 million euros, making the US by a wide margin the top destination market for this category of machines. Russia, up from three to seven million euro and Poland, up from less than 600,000 to 4.7 million euro, were among the top breakouts in year-on-year change.
Molds by now accounted for over a quarter of total Italian plastics machinery exports, and ended 2012 with a 19 percentage point rise relative to 2011. In the case of molds, there was a notable boom in exports to Serbia, up from 1.4 to over 21 million euros, probably partly attributable to the Fiat factory at Kragujevac there. Higher sales were achieved in Poland (+37%, to around 48 million euro) and the US (+71%, to 22 million euro). Assocomaplast says it is worth noting that the trends which emerge from the regional break-down of the sector’s exports, and namely an increase in sales to Europe and North America set against decline in sales to South America and, even more so, to Asia, have also been also felt in the other countries that manufacture this type of machinery.
More in detail, the ranking of the main purchasing countries of Italian exports shows the first five places to be occupied, in the same order as in 2011: Germany (with 14.6% of the total, and a 6.8% increase), France (6.8%; +10.9%), US (6.2%; +32.9%), China (5.4%; -6.4%), Russia (5.2% +17.8%).