MILAN—The Italian plastic and rubber machinery manufacturing sector is set to post 5 percent growth for the year 2017, with an estimated all-time high of $5.4 billion worth of production, according to industry association Amaplast.
Citing figures by Italy's state statistics body ISTAT, Amaplast also reported a 12 percent increase in imports of machinery and a 16 percent year-on-year rise in machinery exports in the first nine months of 2017.
Throughout the nine-month period, roughly 70 percent of Italian production was exported, with most machinery types showing "good performance," Amaplast added in its Dec. 19 statement.
The gains were linked to "technological innovation" and the development of equipment with Industry 4.0 capabilities, said Alessandro Grassi, president of the Italian rubber and plastics machinery manufacturers association.
Some of the best performing segments were thermoforming machines, with 51 percentgrowth, and extruders, with 19 percent growth. By contrast, mono/multifilament and machines for foamed products demonstrated a markedly weaker growth during this same period.
Geographically, sales to other European countries registered 20 percent growth, to represent 61 percent of all Italian polymer machinery exports.
Amaplast said the growth reflected significantly higher sales in Germany, Spain and France, which posted 25 percent, 11 percent and 15 percent growth respectively.
In addition, Amaplast noted "continued recovery" in sales to Russia. A healthy 109 percent growth there brought Russia back within the top 10 export destinations for Italian machinery, Amaplast said.
There also was positive news from NAFTA, where Italian plastics and rubber machinery exports rose 12 percent, despite lower imports to Mexico.
The opposite trend was seen in Asia, however, as two principal markets in the Middle East—Iran and Saudi Arabia—posted declines of 5 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
According to Amaplast, an "excellent" trend in the UAE and Israel was not enough to offset the declines, leading to an overall fall of 5 percent in the Middle East region.
Elsewhere in Asia, two major Far East markets, China and India continued to record "negative or very weak trends," with China posting a 11 percent decline and India showing a mere 1 percent growth.
Africa, which absorbs less than 3 percent of Italian exports of plastic and rubber processing machinery, saw a 22 percent rise in demand. The improvement was mainly noted in the Mediterranean countries, led by Algeria and Egypt.