Plastics and rubber machinery imports grow in Italy

According to the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery and moulds manufacturers’ association Amaplast, based on foreign trade data published by the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT), Italian imports of plastics and rubber processing machinery racked up a 23 % increase in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 – a clear contrast to the weak development of exports. Despite a decline of 7 %, the trade balance has remained positive by over EUR 1 billion. The growth in imports may be interpreted as renewed faith in the domestic market, mainly due to investment incentives that are likely to be renewed, said the association.

Among the main machinery categories, the greatest gains were recorded for imports of injection-moulding (+31 %) and blow-moulding machines (+75 %), accompanied by flexographic printers (+111 %), and moulds (+12 %). According to Amaplast, the Italian packaging industry – the principal consumer of plastic raw materials and processing machinery – is one of the main drivers for the improvement of the sector’s performance. The Italian packaging machinery manufacturers association Ucima has also reported a year-on-year growth of over 14 % in 2017 for packaging companies in the Italian market.

Germany has significantly improved its leading position as a supplier of plastics and rubber machinery to Italy, widening the gap with competitor China, which ranked in the second place. Germany has also maintained its status, which it has held for decades, as the main destination for Italian exports in the sector, evidencing the continuing faith of German customers in Italian-made technology, said the association.

With approximately 61 % of Italian exports headed to other European countries, deliveries remained substantially unchanged compared to H1 2017. Furthermore, after a hope-inspiring recovery of exports to Russia in 2017, sales to the country have declined by 32 % in H1 2018. Exports to the three NAFTA countries have increased by 7 %, placing North America in second place among the export regions. However, this was counterbalanced to some extent by the overall contraction of Central and South American markets, said Amaplast. An overall slowdown was registered for Asia (–6 %) and Oceania (–21 %). The decline in Asia mainly derived from weak sales in the Middle East. Exports to Africa improved by 23 %, thanks to increased sales both to Mediterranean and sub-Saharan countries.