MILAN, ITALY — Italian plastics and rubber machinery makers produced $3.59 billion worth of equipment in 1996, a 15 percent increase from $3.13 billion in 1995, reports the trade group Assocomaplast. Facing a tight domestic market and a growing appetite by Italian processors for foreign machines, Italian suppliers turned to exports. Assocomaplast said machinery exports were $2.46 billion, up 27 percent from 1995 exports of $1.93 million.
Assocomaplast gives the numbers in U.S. dollars.
The dollar has remained fairly stable against the Italian lira the past few years, the trade group reported.
Exports account for more than two-thirds of Italian production. Even though imports increased — from $432 million in 1995 to $537 million in 1997 — the country's trade surplus widened for plastics and rubber machinery by 28 percent, to $1.92 billion.
North American markets make up 20.7 percent of total Italian exports, and Latin America consumes 12 percent of Italian-made machines. Assocomaplast said Latin American business grew 26 percent in 1996, mainly due to strong demand in Brazil and Argentina.
Asia accounts for 18 percent of Italian exports.
In Europe, German processors buy 11 percent of Italian machinery exports in the plastics and rubber industries.
In Italy, domestic demand for Italian machines was $1.67 billion, about the same as 1995, according to the Milan trade group.