The Italian plastics and rubber machinery market finally showed some strength in 2016, some eight years after the global financial crisis sent the domestic processing industry into recession.
The production value of plastics and rubber processing machinery by Italian companies increased by 1.9 percent from 4.15 billion euros ($4.48 billion) in 2015 to 4.23 billion euros ($4.57 billion) in 2016, according to an estimate by Italian trade association Assocomaplast. This marked a return to “pre-crisis levels,” it said. Its analysis of official foreign trade data showed imports of machinery to Italy increased by 12.2 percent from 755 million euros ($816 million) in 2015 to 850 million euros ($918.8 million) in 2016.
Alessandro Grassi, president of Assocomaplast, said: “We are looking at levels we have never seen before, confirming signs that the domestic market is regaining altitude after many — too many — years of stagnation.”
The Italian industry showed robust growth in purchases of injection molding machines (a 37 percent increase in 2016, mainly from Germany, Austria and Japan), extrusion machines (up by 39 percent, from Austria, Belgium and Germany) and blow-molding machines (a 118 percent rise, from France and Germany).
Assocomaplast said: “This positive climate is also reflected in participation in the tradeshow Plast 2018 [May 29-June 1 2018 in Milan], which had already passed the threshold of 600 exhibitors by the end of January 2017.”
Exports by Italian plastics and rubber machinery makers crept up by 1.7 percent to 2.97 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in 2016.
“In making a comparison with 2015 one immediately notes a new historical record for exports,” said Grassi. “They are approaching 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion), racking up an increase of 1.7 percent.”
Exports account for more than 70 percent of Italian machinery production. In 2016 export sales of injection molding machines increased by 18 percent, extruders by 5 percent and thermoforming machines by 10 percent.
Sales to major EU countries increased, but the US market saw a decrease in Italian machinery exports from 260 million euros ($281 million) in 2015 to 230 million euros ($248.6 million) in 2016. Mexico, on the other hand, was the destination country showing the biggest increase for Italian exports, rising 70 percent to 173 million euros ($186.9 million) in 2016.
The most recent survey of its machine-making members by Assocomaplast showed 43 percent of respondents foreseeing improvements in the current half year over July-December 2016, and a similar proportion expecting also to see an upturn in revenues.
Assocomaplast concluded: “Expectations in the industry for 2017 are thus rather positive, further buoyed by the [government's] measures to support investment in capital equipment — super-amortization, hyper-amortization, the new Sabatini law, tax deductions for R&D — implemented also as part of the National Plan Industry 4.0.”