Assocomaplast (the Italian trade association belonging to CONFINDUSTRIA, which groups to-gether over 160 makers of machinery, moulds and equipment for plastics and rubber) has completed the year 2014 balance sheet for the sector, incorporating ISTAT foreign trade data.
Progress in exports maintained a constant pace to the end of the year, sustaining Italian machinery manufacturers in a period where the domestic market showed only timid signs of recovery in the very recent months. In effect, although there was a noticeable increase in purchases from abroad – on the order of eight percentage (8%) points over the entire year, in statistical terms – the propensity towards investment by converters remained limited into the final quar-ter of 2014.
Assocomaplast, according to surveys among its members, estimated a value of production that again touched the threshold of 4 billion euros. The trade balance has further increased in a positive direction, going well beyond the 2-billion-euro threshold, with the domestic market just under that level.
The most recent survey by the association also highlighted a generally optimistic outlook among approximately one third of the interviewed companies, who expect further increases in orders and turnover in the current half year. A similar percentage also expects the export share to increase.
Regarding the destinations for foreign sales of Italian machinery, a clear and progressive increase is noted for European countries – within the EU, while the total trade with extra-EU countries has fallen off, dragged down by the negative performance in Russia (-11.9%) partially as a result of the sanctions applied in response to the Ukraine crisis and the collapse of the ruble – and NAFTA, thanks to increases in exports to the United States.
The lacklustre trend in sales to Brazil (-11% with respect to 2013) conditioned the overall performance in South America while an upswing in supplies to Chinese converters (as well as to Vietnamese, Indonesian and Indian, just to mention some of the most significant cases) compensated a slow-down to South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Thanks to the above-mentioned positive trend in imports from Italy, the United States (+21.5%) took second place from France (-10.4%, now in third place) among destination markets, while Germany, in keeping with established tradition, remained in first place by a wide margin (albeit somewhat decreased).
A look at the main types of machines again shows positive performance for blow-moulding machines and flexographic printing machines (+11.6% and +11.1%, respectively). The export value of extruders remained essentially stable with respect to the previous year while injection-moulding machines showed a clear downturn (-16%).
Moulds continued to perform well (especially injection types), representing over 28% of total exports for the sector.
A major date for the Italian plastics and rubber processing industry is the upcoming edition of the international fair PLAST 2015, May 5-9, 2015 at the FieraMilano fairgrounds in Rho-Pero. Advance visitor registration figures are very encouraging, more than double those recorded by the organizational office for the same period in 2012. Expectations are thus high for the tri-annual event, which will give operators a chance to get updated on the latest technologies de-veloped by Italian machinery and equipment manufacturers and by their principal international competitors.