SAO PAULO, BRAZIL — The devalued real, high interest rates and machinery import duties are impacting the exports of Italian machines to Brazil and strengthening local manufacturers.
According to Alessandro Veronesi, president of the Italian plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers association (Assocomaplast), Italian exports to Brazil decreased roughly 25 percent last year, while Italian manufacturers that have manufacturing affiliates in Brazil are seeing their sales grow.
"In view to this new scenario, there are at least 10 Italian companies thinking about installing plants in Brazil," Veronesi said in a news conference during Brasilplast. "They see what firms like Sandretto and Piovan have done and want to follow the same steps."
Sandretto Industrie SpA is doubling capacity of its 2-year-old facility in Aruja, Brazil, while auxiliary equipment manufacturer Piovan SpA inaugurated a plant in Osasco, Brazil, last year, its first outside Italy.
Two newcomers from Italy are Bausano Group SpA of Varese and Maicopresse SpA of Borgosatollo. Bausano has been producing extrusion lines in Sao Paulo since last year, and Maicopresse is installing a press assembly unit in Curitiba.
"Over the past five years, the general quality of Brazilian machinery producers has improved considerably. In turn, the high cost of importing equipment has become somewhat unattractive for processors," said Bausano Vice President Florio Roccon.
"We believe that in the near future this country [Brazil] will serve the entire Latin American region. Therefore, it is necessary to be here."
Maicopresse's new unit was also conceived to serve the Latin America region.
"We possess several clients that have 50-60 Maicopresse machines in their European plants and are also present in Brazil. We want to sell to them here, too," said General Director Sauro Pepa.
The automotive and electronics industries are Maicopresse's main markets.
Maicopresse does not yet have machines operating in Latin America. The company opted to stay out of this market until it set up a technical assistance structure locally, which is being implemented together with the Curitiba assembly unit.
The Italian industry claims it is the main exporter of plastics equipment to Brazil. According to Veronesi, Italy exported $38 million in plastics equipment to Brazil in 2000. Brazil is the sixth biggest importer of Italian plastics machinery, accounting for 4.7 percent of exports for this category of products in the country.
Last year, total exports of Italian-made machines amounted to $2 billion.
Brazil imported about US$773 million in plastics machines last year, including injection presses, extrusion lines, blow molding machines, machinery components, thermoforming machines, filling machines and printers, according to data from Abiplast, the Sao Paulo-based Brazilian processors association.
Assocomaplast's preliminary figures also showed that other countries such as the United States, Germany and France saw their plastics machinery exports to Brazil decline last year.
"Apparently, the Taiwanese suppliers increased their market penetration through sales of cheaper equipment," Veronesi said.