DUSSELDORF, GERMANY — Price competition is heating up between German and Italian machinery makers, an official of Italy's Assocomaplast trade group said at K'98.
The Germans complain it hasn't always been fair. Three years ago, at K'95, a lira devaluation slashed by 30-40 percent the price of Italian machines sold in Germany.
That kind of currency tinkering soon will be relegated to the history books, thanks to the euro, the common European currency on its way Jan. 1. With pricing done in a single currency, arch-rival Italians and Germans will compete on an even playing field, said Mario Maggiani, Assocomaplast's marketing manager.
``In the past, the devaluation helped us. Now it's not helping us anymore. So you have to produce a good machine,'' Maggiani said in a K'98 interview at Assocomaplast's booth.
Japanese machines, a minor, but growing force in Europe, are helping pressure prices, Maggiani said. In response, German suppliers are lowering prices on some models of equipment, he said. The result: Machines made in Italy have lost their big price advantage and today are only 5-10 percent cheaper than German machines.
Italy exports about 70 percent of its plastics and rubber machinery. More than half the export total goes to other European countries.
Assocomaplast released its projections for 1998 during the K show. Italy should produce $3.7 billion worth of plastics and rubber machinery in 1998, up from $3.5 billion in 1997. Measured in lira, that's a 9 percent increase.
The association predicts exports will jump 15 percent, to $2.6 billion, by the end of this year.
Assocomaplast tracks a broad range of machinery far beyond standard plastics equipment, to include flexographic printing machines, fiber-making equipment, tire machines, molds and components.
In the first half of 1998, production of plastics and rubber equipment grew by 12 percent. Strongest markets were European Union countries, where demand increased 19 percent. Exports gained nearly 17 percent to the United States, which buys 8 percent of Italian exports, the trade association reported.
Shipments to hard-hit Asia grew a moderate 4.5 percent in the first half.
Assocomaplast also reported year-end 1997 data by type of machine. Measured in lira, the value of exports of injection molding machines and extruders grew by 4 percent and 5 percent, respectively, over 1996. Exports of blow molding machines enjoyed a 14 percent gain. Thermoforming equipment exports gained 20 percent.