If Asian machinery manufacturers were enjoying their stay at Argenplas 2006, the same cannot be said about Brazilian manufacturers. With the dollar exchange rate dropping lower and lower in Brazil for the past 3½ years, the price of Brazilian-made equipment has lost considerable competitiveness in the international market.
``Our prices are already more expensive than Asian ones and are starting to border on European prices,'' said Maristela SimÃµes de Miranda, president of the Chamber of Plastics Machinery and Accessories Manufacturing Industries, a division of the Brazilian Machinery Manufacturers Association.
Miranda is also a partner at Maqplas Indústria e Comércio de Maquinas Ltda. of Osasco, Brazil, an exporter of bag-making equipment.
``We see limited chances for Brazilian equipment while the exchange rate remains where it is,'' she said.
The U.S. dollar exchange rate in relation to the Brazilian real has plummeted from R$2.8 to R$2.1 in the past 12 months, after having peaked at around R$3.8 between late 2002 and early 2003, right after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected president of Brazil.
Miranda said the attendance of Brazilian machine makers at Argenplas'06 was merely for institutional purposes. ``We are here because we have enjoyed a good share in this market in the recent past. We have clients here, and this alone makes our presence in the show a must.''
Luis Carlos Rulli, export manager for film and sheet machine builder Rulli Standard Indústria e Comércio de Maquinas Ltda. of Guarulhos, Brazil, sees the firm's participation as an investment.
``We participated in the fair, made great contacts with Argentine clients, as well as from other countries such as Peru, and all that was quite positive,'' he said.
The firm has been watching Argentina's plastics industry recover since 2003. In 2004 and 2005, company sales to Argentina increased 50 percent and 10 percent, respectively. ``For the current year, we foresee a drop due to the dollar exchange rate being where it's at. A machine that I sold to Argentina two years ago for US$500,000 now costs US$700,000.''