Italian sales overseas have slowed significantly in the period January-September 2018, according to plastics and rubber machinery association Amaplast (Milan / Italy; www.amaplast.org
). Based on data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat, Rome; www.istat.it
), Italian imports grew by 11.4% during the first three quarters of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. While growth remains in the double-digits, Amaplast said it is a significant fall from the much higher figures of 26% in March 2018 and 23% in June.
The flat trend in sales abroad comes as no great surprise given an overall economic context that is losing vigour, both in Italy and in Europe generally, commented Amaplast president Alessandro Grassi. Even our German competitors are coming to terms with an abrupt drop in exports, still in the double digits this past March and June, falling to 4.5% in September.
Exports remained weak, with lacklustre performances in Europe, the Middle East and Central and South America. European exports were down 1.2% with shipments from CIS countries dropping by 12%, mainly due to stalled sales to Russia. The Middle East saw a 37.1% slump in exports as a consequence of declining sales in the main markets of Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Israel, while Central and South America posted a 12.9% drop.
Asia performed positively with exports up 9.7%, led by India and South Korea, as did North America, with NAFTA countries achieving export growth of 6.5%, mostly thanks to good sales in Mexico. North Africa increased its exports by 13% although sub-Saharan markets were weaker with just a 0.8% rise.
Amaplast said the balance of trade, although well in the black at EUR 1.62 bn, contracted by 5%. Regarding performance by machinery type, the trend remains fairly positive for injection and blow moulding machines and extrusion lines but is slowing for auxiliary equipment and moulds.
In light of the data, the association is expecting 2018 year-end production and foreign trade to be roughly in line with 2017. The association said this must be considered a positive result given that 2017 was the best in the past five years.
Amaplast is cautious in its outlook for 2019, citing uncertainties about the overall economic climate both in Italy and in Europe. This includes tensions on tariffs, along with increasing pressure towards a circular economy.