Italian manufacturers

Eddies in the first quarter of 2018

Marketing - Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The Statistical Studies Centre of Amaplast (Italian trade association, member of Confindustria, bringing together about 170 manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery, equipment and moulds) has analysed foreign trade data published by Istat for the first quarter of 2018. A comparison with the same period in 2017 reveals growth of 26% in imports and a contraction of approximately one percentage point in exports. This provides indications of two important factors.

Significant and constant growth in purchases abroad, suggesting sustained recovery in the domestic market, as already seen in the impressive positive results at year-end 2017. As underscored by Amaplast president Alessandro Grassi (in the picture below) at the Members Assembly on June 14 in Linz, Austria, “It is a fact that the propensity to invest among Italian converters is back on a positive growth trend and we can only be happy about this”.

The slowdown in exports should not come as a surprise and may be considered to fall within a normal range of variation. 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.

It is clearly premature to be talking about a decline, even though we must acknowledge that the sector has witnessed continuous positive growth for at least seven or eight years (with the exception of a brief dip in 2013) and thus, given the inherent cyclical nature of the economy, a negative phase would be entirely within the norm in the medium or even short term.

The mid-June Amaplast member survey comparing the current half year with the same period in 2017 revealed that more than half (51%) forecast stable turnover and a significant portion (38%) foresee improvement. As regards orders, 42% of members forecast substantial stability while 41% expect to see increases.

After an excellent 2017, with double-digit growth in all indicators, it is still not unreasonable to expect the current year to close out with positive performance both in production and in foreign trade, albeit at a more modest growth rate as compared with recent years.

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