ASSAGO, ITALY — Stronger exports partially offset weak Italian demand for the country's plastics and rubber equipment and molds in 2012, according to machinery association Assocomaplast.
Overall production was flat in 2012, at 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion), the same number as 2011, Assocomaplast said. The Assago-based trade association released the final statistics March 25.
The domestic market sank 5.7 percent, to 2.05 billion euros ($2.6 billion). But exports grew by 6 percent, to 2.57 billion euros ($3.37 billion).
The top five export market countries kept the same rank as 2012, Assocomaplast said: Germany (with 14.6 percent of the total), France (6.8 percent), the United States (6.2 percent), China (5.4 percent) and Russia (5.2 percent). Of those biggest markets, the United States grew the fastest, at 32.9 percent.
Looking at the numbers by type of equipment, the trade group said that sales of blow molding machines jumped by 18 percent for 2012, thanks to much stronger demand from the United States. U.S. demand for Italian blow molders nearly doubled, and the United States by far the largest export market for that sector.
Sales of extruders gained 9 percent, mainly from stronger sales from Germany, Russia, France and China.
Injection molding machines accounted for the weakest sector, posting a 20 percent drop in euro-based sales volume in 2012 from 2011 levels. Assocomaplast said some longtime Italian manufacturers went out of business or experienced severe financial difficulties.
Italian officials report that molds grew strongly in 2012, up 19 percent from 2011. Assocomaplast reported a "notable boom" in exports to Serbia, probably partly attributed to the new Fiat plant in Kragujevac, southeast of Belgrade.
Mold sales also grew to Poland and the United States.