Noting a "global economic slowdown in 2011" (economic growth, +3.7%, versus +5.2% in 2010), the association asserted that the world machine tool industry managed impressive growth in production (+27.7%) as well as consumption (+27.5%), and UCIMU members secured the fourth position among nations producing similar products (following China, Japan, and Germany), and the third rank among machine tool exporters (after Japan and Germany.)The total value of 2011 Italian machine tool, robot, and automation system output was €4.762 billion ($5.8 billion), a 13.5% increase over 2010 output. Italian domestic market consumption grew by 3.4% to €2.5 billion ($3.07 billion), due to the 19.9% increase in imports (€1.049 billion, or $1.29 billion): foreign machines held a 41.1% market share.
Of greater concern to UCIMU is that domestic machine tool manufacturers' sales to domestic customers decreased -5.7%, to €1.5 billion. Giancarlo Losma, who retired as chairman of UCIMU after the annual meeting, said the industry has achieved impressive, export-based growth in their output and revenues. "However, what worries the Italian manufacturers most is the reduction of sales in the domestic market. Small businesses in the sector, those sized to operate only in the local area, are at risk of collapsing."
UCIMU forecasts that exports of Italian machine tools will increase 12.3% to nearly €3.7 billion ($4.5 billion) this year, and that output will increase 4.9% to €5 billion ($6.1 billion.) Domestic shipments are forecast to decline 11.1% to €1.3 billion, however, and Italian machine tool consumption will fall 4.2% to €2.5 billion ($3.07 billion.)
The association raised a similar point of concern earlier this year when it reported strong first-quarter results for 2012.
Italian machine tool exports were the basis of the industry's strong performance in 2011. UCIMU members increased their out-of-country sales 24.7% in 2011 versus 2010, totalling €3.07 billion ($3.8 billion), the second-best annual total in recent memory. The member companies' strongest export markets were China, Germany, and the U.S., and strong increases in consumption for Italian machine tools was noted in Brazil, too.
Exports to the EU were 38% of UCIMU members' total sales, and rose +30.7% in 2011 to total €1.16 billion ($1.42 billion.) Exports of Italian machine tools to North America increased by 77.3%, mostly to the U.S. (+97.3% to €282 million/$346 million.).