The recovery in the Italian rubber & plastic domestic market is fully underway, according to the latest figures published by the country's trade association Amaplast.
In a June 26 release, the trade body — which represents roughly 170 manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery — said imports of machinery rose 26 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared with the same period last year. Amaplast officials said the growth in machine purchasing by Italian processors indicates a healthy industry.
The figure compares against a 1 percent drop in export of machinery. The statement did not provide figures for sales.
While welcoming the import increase as an indication of “sustained recovery” in the domestic market, Amaplast played down the slowdown in exports, saying it should not come as a surprise.
“After the first two months of continued positive growth, the slowdown in March was almost to be expected, heralded also by decreases in orders as reported by members in the last weeks of the period,” the body noted.
Although the slip puts an end to an almost uninterrupted run of positive development — with the exception of a brief dip in 2013 — Amaplast believes that it would be “clearly premature to be talking about a decline.”
However, the association did not rule out “a negative phase”, saying it would be “entirely within the norm” given the inherent cyclical nature of the economy.
Amaplast's half-year members' survey, published mid-June, has also revealed that more than half of its members — 51 percent — forecast stable turnover this year, while 38 percent foresaw improvement.
In terms of orders, 42 percent forecast “substantial stability,” while 41 percent expected to see increases.
The Italian rubber & plastics machinery sector posted record results last year, as production grew 10 percent year-over-year to 4.67 billion euros ($5.4 billion) compared to 2016.
Machinery exports stood at 3.3 billion euros ($3.8 billion) for the year, up 12 percent compared to the year before.
Italy's domestic market also grew 10 percent at 2.3 billion euros ($2.7 billion), while imports of machinery rose 14 percent at 970 million euros ($1.1 billion).