After falling in 2002, Italian plastics and rubber equipment and molds enjoyed modest gains in production and exports in 2003, according to Assocomaplast, a Milan-based trade association.
Production grew 2.7 percent to hit 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion) in 2003. Exports reached 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion), an increase of 2.4 percent from 2002.
The domestic Italian market was flat at 2.2 billion euros ($2.5 billion). Imports of machinery fell 6.8 percent to 575 million euros ($651 million).
Assocomaplast said the European Union remains the most important market, accounting for 62.8 percent of Italian-made machines and molds.
Germany is by far the top consumer of the Italian equipment, using nearly 19 percent of total exports. China overtook France as the No. 2 export country, with 7.6 percent.
The United States has held steady at No. 5 for several years. In 2003, the United States accounted for 6.3 of total Italian exports.
Assocomaplast said 440 Italian companies will exhibit at the K 2004 show this fall in Germany, and more than 250 of them supply machines, molds, mechanical components and electrical and electronic parts.