Italy experienced a rise in imports and exports of rubber and plastics equipment in January-June this year, said Assocomaplast, the trade association representing companies in the sector. The group's announcement comes after a long period of weakness in the Italian market caused by debt-related economic problems.
There was a progressive rise in imports of equipment, leading to an increase of 8 percent in the first half of 2014 from the first half of 2013, according to Assocomaplast's analysis of official figures for Italian foreign trade.
“This improvement can [we hope] partly be ascribed to the — albeit limited — stimulus measures enacted by the Italian government,” said the association in a statement.
In the first half, exports of Italian rubber and plastics equipment continued a tentative growth trend that started at the end of 2013. However, Assocomaplast noted a slight slowdown in June, when the annual export growth rate was 6.4 percent, compared with 8.6 percent in May, 8.3 percent in April, and 8.9 percent in March.
“Looking at the most significant equipment categories, we notice in particular the 20 percentage point rise in imports of flexographic printers and injection molding machines,” it said.
In exports, Assocomaplast highlighted increases of 6 percent for extruders and 16 percent for blow molding machines. It also noted export growth in flexographic printers and moulds, but did not provide percentage rates. Moulds “account for the largest slice of Italian exports, and often contribute to sustaining them, with over 95 million euros ($122.2 million) worth going to Germany,” it said.
Looking at regional export destinations in the first half of the year, there was a 4.6 percent increase in Europe, which accounts for 60 percent of Italian machinery exports.
For the Americas (18 percent share of the total), exports rose by 3.7 percent. This was “driven by the considerable recovery of sales to NAFTA countries, which amply counterbalanced the slowdown of South America, affected by falling sales to Brazil,” said Assocomaplast.
The Asian export market (17 percent share) grew by 24.7 percent. China was the leading destination, but exports to India and Indonesia also performed well. Included in the Asia area are Middle Eastern countries, with Saudi Arabia showing a positive sales trend.
The African export market (5 percent share) slowed down in the first half, after a phase of relative expansion. Assocomaplast particularly noted a decline in sales to the markets of Sub-Saharan Africa.